Madison County Opinion...

SEPTEMBER 24, 2003

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
September 24, 2003

Frankly Speaking

Why is erroneous knowledge so widely accepted?
The trouble with most folks isn’t so much their ignorance. It’s know’n so many things that ain’t so.”
— 19th century humorist Josh Billings.
Billings made the above quote well over 100 years ago, but it is more true today than ever. When I recently read the quote, I immediately formed a long list of examples. It will take several columns to go through them all.
The first place you can see this principle in action is on radio and TV talk shows. I have all but stopped listening to such programs because of the absurd statements made by callers, and sometimes the hosts, that are totally false. The more wrong they are, the louder they demand that they be believed.
Most of these people are so clearly wrong that few if any listeners take them seriously. But some of the erroneous knowledge is so widely accepted, and so wrong, that they are causing severe damage to American culture and heritage.
Here is the first example: The phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the U.S. Constitution. The nearest it comes is the line in the second amendment that prohibits “Congress” from establishing a national religion. Yet our children are prohibited from praying in school. Teachers dare not mention God in their classes, and courts are cursed when they post the Ten Commandments on their wall.
Another example: “Al Gore won the last election. It was stolen from him by the Supreme Court.” Not true. After the election was settled by the courts, several news organizations conducted recounts of the Florida ballots. They counted them every way they could think of. In every recount, Bush won.
Finally, (for this column) all things Southern are being attacked because “The Confederacy’s purposes was to preserve slavery.” This is the most outrageous lie in American culture today. Any 10-year-old child, even those educated in Georgia, with a calculator and a copy of the U.S. Constitution can disprove this belief in 10 minutes or less.
Because of this well known but not true statement, students are being sent home if they wear a shirt with a Confederate emblem. The University of Georgia Dixie Redcoat Band has not been permitted to play “Dixie” for 30 years or more. The Georgia flag with the Confederate battle emblem, a flag that poll after poll has shown is favored by a vast majority of Georgians was taken away in a midnight maneuver. Now, a promise to allow Georgia voters to decide the issue has been circumvented by not allowing the 1956 flag to appear on the ballot.
Another famous quote says, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” That is another statement to be analyzed at another time. But it is clear that what you think you know that ain’t so can hurt you. It can unjustly destroy a people’s way of life.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is

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By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
September 24, 2003

A Moment With Margie

My youngest is about to be 18
My baby’s turning 18, Sept. 30.
Three years ago, his sister, Miranda, turned 18 (she just turned 21 about a month ago!).
I found that hard to believe, but it’s even harder for me to believe my little boy is about to be “of age.”
When I was a little girl I always imagined having a daughter some day when I grew up. I never thought too much about being the mother of a son. When I was expecting the second time, I just had a feeling I was going to have a little boy. My aunt Donnie confirmed it, shaking her head wisely and decisively all during my pregnancy, “definitely a little boy,” she would say.
As it happened, Aunt Donnie died on my due date - and I ended up carrying my boy an extra two weeks. So she never got to meet him.
But Aunt Donnie was right, when Zachary (these days he wants to be called Zack) was born he weighed in at nine and a quarter pounds - not such a “little” but a big, big boy.
The midwife asked me “Margie, what are you going to do with this big old boy?” as she laid him on my stomach.
Well, I wondered that myself.
Having a daughter is one thing - first of all, she’s a girl, and some of the time at least, you can empathize and kind of figure out what’s going on in her head. But with a little boy, what’s going on in there is often a mystery.
From him I get an “it was OK” when I inquire about his day - not a rundown of what happened, as I did (and still do) from his sister.
When he’s bothered about something, it’s not always so easy to know what it is, or how to approach him in talking about it. So I just try to give him an extra smile and a little encouragement, and wait until he wants to talk. And sooner or later, he generally does.
I hope that, as parents, Charles and I have done right by him, that we’ve taught him the basics, set a good example and been there for him whenever he’s needed us.
One thing he can never doubt, and that’s how much he’s loved.
I don’t let him take it for granted - I tell him everyday. I hope he doesn’t get tired of it, because whether he’s 18, or 38, as long as I’m alive he’ll hear it every day I speak to him, or write to him, or think of him.
Well, now he’s pretty much a man of his own - six feet, tough, grown up and able to handle life on his own terms, most of the time. But there are times when I get a glimpse of that little boy, and when I do, my heart twists painfully, because as proud as I am of the man he is becoming - I surely miss the little boy.
Because so much of his psyche was (is) a mystery to me, I had the joy of watching him develop and of trying to figure him out.
He’s funny and quiet and loving. Sometimes (his sister would say a lot) he’s gruff and mischievous.
He has a special way with animals - they all gravitate to him. I’ve told him he’ll miss his calling if he doesn’t become a veterinarian or work with animals in some way.
I hope that his dad and I have taught him about respect for himself, and for others - especially the woman who will one day share his life.
Next year will come college and all of it’s changes and challenges.
But I know Zack, that you are up to those challenges. I know that you will make us all proud.
I love you son, happy 18th birthday.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.
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