The Madison County Journal
January 12, 2000
targeted by writer
When I finally got around to reading the
Sports Illustrated article containing
Atlanta pitcher John Rocker's tirade against New Yorkers, I came
to the conclusion that Rocker was set up. The writer, Jeff Perlman,
set out to create a controversial article designed to sell magazines.
He figured that it would be easy to get the hot-tempered pitcher
to spout off, and he was right.
To a large extent, Rocker's rage against Mets fans is justified.
They have established a website (www.rockersucks.com) devoted
to ever more creative ways to insult the Macon native. Many of
the comments on the site make Rocker's comments appear to be
in good taste. But that is not the main point of this column.
Rocker was set up to be the villain so that Perlman could sell
an article. Nothing in the article uncovers anything new about
Rocker. We all knew he has a temper. We knew that he has a habit
of spouting off at the wrong time. We knew that Rocker takes
pleasure in returning the insults thrown at him by the boorish
underclasses that are the Mets fans. Perlman knew all that before
he came looking for Rocker quotes.
The thing that amazes me is the absurd reactions to the article.
You would think that Rocker has committed some vile crime that
should result in his total banishment. That is not the case.
Rocker never spat on an umpire. He has not attempted to strangle
his coach. He didn't even get someone to kill his pregnant girlfriend.
All he did was express his opinion in colorful language.
The last time I looked, we still have a constitutional guarantee
of freedom of speech in this country. The Mets fans are free
to hurl insults at Rocker when he appears in a game, and he has
an equal right to answer them in kind. Any effort to deny Rocker
a place in Major League baseball because of his comments is a
direct violation of the Constitution.
Should Rocker be required to undergo psychological testing? That
is also an absurd idea. This is the United States of America.
People were sent to mental institutions for speaking their minds
in the old Soviet Union, not here.
Look, Rocker is like a tightly coiled spring. His energy level
has to be tapped regularly to prevent him from blowing up altogether.
This explosive energy is what makes him such a great pitcher.
It is also the source of his vocal eruptions. You cannot tamper
with one without affecting the other.
Some smart doctor may be able to give Rocker a pill that will
reduce his energy, but to do so will likely also reduce his effectiveness
as a relief pitcher. It appears to me that the Braves will have
to decide if Rocker's playing skills are worth dealing with his
Perlman deserves no credit for writing the article. His journalistic
ethics are lacking. All of Rocker's critics are out of line for
their efforts to deny his right of freedom of speech. And Rocker
is at fault for failing to engage his brain before putting his
mouth in gear.
Finally, we all deserve criticism for taking this temptest in
a teapot seriously.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.
Madison County Journal
January 12, 2000
funds, help for cemetery care
At the Lord reunion in September, (attendees) voted to clean
up the Chandler Cemetery on Blacks Creek Church Road and the
Lord-Harris Cemetery on Lord-Harris Road on Hwy. 334.
So far we have been very busy at the Chandler Cemetery. We would
like to get a perpetual care fund going to take care of these
cemeteries after we are gone. In the Chandler Cemetery, we found
several grave markers which had been overturned, as well as tree
houses erected by neighborhood children and platforms in a huge
At one of our clean-up days, we had a few people there and we
accomplished quite a lot. At our second clean-up day, Mr. George
Cowart, who owns the land adjoining the cemetery, and Robert
L. Huff Sr. cut down a lot of trees so the cemetery can be seen
from the road. We contracted with Mr. Darnell to reset the marker
that had been overturned.
There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, but without
the funds or the physical hands to do the work, we need help.
There are Chandlers, McGinnises, Martins, Holcombs, Doves and
many others buried in the cemetery, as well as Lords.
If you would like to join in this undertaking and desire information,
contact Alice Huff at 548-1605. We want to start on the Lord-Harris
cemetery around April. Any and all help will be greatly appreciated.
Alice E. Huff,
The Madison County Journal
January 12, 2000
County politics sour again
Madison County's political
beast is awake again as bad feelings abound. In the past two
weeks, an official called deputies to apprehend a judge and another
lawsuit was filed against the county, both issues revolving around
long-standing, pay-related dilemmas.
Here are some thoughts on the county government's most recent
·Jerry Mattox should drop his suit against the county
if for no other reason than that tactically it will fall flat.
The major aim of that action is to nullify the vote of the board
of commissioners on Dec. 27 to award pay raises to the clerk
of court's office. The BOC stood by that pay increase Monday
night. So in effect, even if the suit is successful, the clerk's
office will get their raises if the board is forced to vote on
the matter again. Likewise, the suit will accomplish little more
than to raise the tempers of all involved. We all want a more
productive, cooperative government. The most recent litigation
does little to accomplish those aims.
·Patsy Pierce and Nelson Nash questioned how Mattox got
the information for the suit Monday night. They wanted to see
the receipts for information obtained. They also wanted to know
if Mattox or John Scoggins had a key to the county government
complex. What seemed implicit in the line of questioning was
the idea that Mattox may be using the lawsuit to accomplish the
political aims of chairman Wesley Nash. This may not be true.
But it is not an unreasonable stretch. Chairman Nash vehemently
opposed pay raises for the clerk's office, maintaining that awarding
the raises in one year will undermine a pay system that took
a year to implement. He again asked the commissioners to reconsider
their vote on the clerk's pay Monday.
·Chairman Nash is justified in his concern that the new
county pay system is going down the tubes. Many clearly feel
that fairness has not been accomplished and in the eyes of some,
it may never be. However, two things must be done: An outside
firm must be hired to lend an objective voice to an emotional
issue and to wipe out any notions that those who conducted the
pay study had self-serving aims. And the county's constitutional
officers need to realize that giving up some of their power by
joining a county pay system is in their long-term interest. Uniformity
in pay should be the ultimate goal of all officials involved.
One pay system would be a major step toward fairness, while easing
tensions in county offices.
·Pierce, Nelson Nash and Melvin Drake should not have
voted to hold a closed-door meeting when the question of the
legality of such a meeting was a point of debate. If there's
a mistake to be made, it should be in favor of openness.
·Commissioner Nash was wrong to suggest Monday that Mattox
should have had a tougher time obtaining information from the
commissioners' office. Mattox was charged $5 for the information
he received. Commissioner Nash said: "As long as we keep
feeding him (Mattox) information for $5 a lick, he's probably
going to file them (lawsuits) all day long." But commissioners
should be eager to make open records easily accessible to any
citizen, even ones they dislike.
·Chairman Nash and Judge Donald "Hoppy" Royston
should air their differences without getting deputies involved.
Stopping the meeting and calling for a law enforcement officer
to remove Royston was an unnecessary show of force by the chairman.
·Mattox should end the fight to remove Patsy Pierce from
office. Many would agree that this conflict has run its course,
seeming little more than a personal grudge match waged by Mattox
against Pierce as an election nears.
There's no doubt about it. There will never be a love feast between
many of the political figures in Madison County. The conflicts
are complex, stretching over years with one bitterness blanketed
by another. Unfortunately, the worst may be on the horizon as
the 2000 elections near.
Let's all hope the voicing of differences will take place in
a more productive manner than shown so far this year.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.