Madison County Opinion...

JANUARY 8, 2003


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
January 8, 2003

Frankly Speaking
Rednecks are safe to insult
Those who make a derisive statement about black people, American Indians, Asians, or most other racial or ethnic groups are immediately attacked as a racist with threats and demands that they resign from some office, pay reparations or otherwise accept punishment. Those who insult Southern rednecks are praised, rewarded and promoted.
Why is it that we rednecks never object when we are insulted? The answer is simple: We know and like who we are. We have sublime self awareness and self confidence without being arrogant. We are so sure of our position within our heritage that we can laugh loudest at the redneck jokes.
Do you hear what I am saying? As long as you insult us as individuals, we don’t care. We have too much self-assurance to be threatened by your insults. But when you insult the basis of our self-confidence, our heritage, you are in for a fight.
Last week, deposed King Roy was on TV displaying lack of understanding about the “continuing animosity” being directed toward him by Southern heritage groups. He ought to know without being told. He is a native of Georgia with at least some rural ties. He ought to know the importance heritage has for traditional Southerners. We hate nothing more than a scalawag!
Traditional Southerners have a different value system from most other Americans. We place far more value on heritage than we do money or sports. Therefore, it should be no surprise when we are infuriated about an attack on the symbols of our heritage designed to bring some basketball tournament to Atlanta. Nor should there be any surprise when we become enraged by heritage assaults designed to help a handful of rich Atlanta corporate types gain even more wealth.
Finally, we have become frustrated by the lie that the Confederacy and its symbols represent an effort to preserve slavery. Any fifth grade student, even those in Georgia, can take a calculator and a copy of the U.S. Constitution and prove with mathematical certainty the falsity of that statement. It is so easy to disprove the slavery connection to Southern heritage that the Atlanta media should be embarrassed for not reporting it. Former King Roy still spouts that line even while admitting that the flag led to his defeat.
What do we want from Roy Barnes? How about a confession that he was wrong? An apology to the people of Georgia is essential for his forgiveness. A public statement of support for reversing the flag bill would give him a chance to ride off into the sunset without further harassment.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
January 8, 2003

From the Editor's Desk
Creeped out in the surveillance age
“Your middle name is ‘Buchanan’ right?”
A co-worker responded “yes” with a look of confusion.
I pointed to his name on the computer screen.
“There you are right there,” I said. “And for just $59.95 I can know all about you.”
For some $60 on US Search.com I could learn his current address and where he has lived for the past 10 years, his available listed phone numbers, the names of his relatives, roommates and neighbors. I could learn about any of his bankruptcies, tax liens, small claims civil judgments, marriages, divorces, real property ownership and whether he went by any aliases.
The co-worker said the US search site had a mob feel, like Vito Corleone slipping some cash to an underling.
“Johnny, go see what you can find out about this chump.”
There is a shadiness to such endeavors. You can find out about someone’s past on the Internet. You can even get maps to people’s homes and satellite images of residences off the web. Some employers contract with Internet search organizations so they can know what kind of employee they may get.
But the technology to monitor individuals is, of course, not limited to the web.
We also have the sci-fi realities.
For instance, there are spy planes that can distinguish writing on a clipboard from 80,000 feet. There are facial recognition systems. There are ways to bug people’s computers to monitor their every move. There are more and more cameras in public places.
It’s almost cliché now to raise the comparison of today’s erosion of privacy to “1984,” George Orwell’s vision of a society stripped of privacy under a watchful “Big Brother.” Some say his vision is coming true some 20 years late.
One friend of mine even predicts that within 10 years we will all have chips implanted in us with personal information encoded. Others discard such thinking as paranoid delusion.
I’m somewhere in between.
Chip implants seem far-fetched. But the erosion of privacy in our society is real and is one of the darker sides of the age of convenience. We have more and more tools to observe others. We find ourselves on more and more databases and are thus infiltrated with telemarketing calls, junk mail and spam. We hear about numerous cases of identity theft nowadays.
And our government wants more authority to monitor individuals in the name of security. Many support giving up some privacies in exchange for greater security from our government. As my uncle said, “If you’ve done nothing wrong, what have you got to hide?”
Maybe nothing. But this requires an assumption that there is an unchanging, benevolent force holding the other end of the information rope, that what is given away could never be used to devious ends, that only the bad guys could really be affected.
Maybe I’m a paranoid type.
Maybe we’re not stepping deeper each day into a new surveillance age.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so creeped out by all the new technologies.
I laughed at my co-worker’s unease at the US search site.
Then I “googled” myself as some now say, meaning I used the Internet search site to see what I could find on myself.
There were Journal articles, along with other things not related to me.
I whispered a quiet “The horror” as I scrolled down and saw a site for Zach Mitcham “All Dolled Up.”
I promise that’s not me.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

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