Madison County Opinion...

JANUARY 21, 2004


Column
By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
January 21, 2004

Frankly Speaking

Bigotry has no place in politics
“Bigotry - prejudice and intolerance: intolerance toward people who hold different views, especially on matters of politics, religion, or ethnicity.”
How do you spot a bigot? Please understand that holding different views from another person or group of persons is not bigotry. I hold many views that are clearly in disagreement with what other people think. If I didn’t, there would be no purpose in writing this column. As my regular readers know, I never hesitate to express my views while pointing out the error in the thinking of those with whom I disagree.
The thing that separates valid disagreements with bigotry is the basis for the disagreement, and the way that disagreement is expressed.
One can express differing views with logic, documented facts and references to the historical record. Or, if a person cannot offer documentation to support his opinions, he usually resorts to name calling, profanity comparisons to Adolph Hitler, and other expressions of venomous hatred.
Recently, a group of radical leftist Hollywood types acting under the name of “moveon.com” held a contest to see who could do the best job of vilifying President Bush. At least two people presented videos showing the president morphing into Hitler. The normal speech at this meeting involved “cussing like a drunken sailor,” or worse. These people were so gross that they gave bigotry a bad name.
Right wing extremists are almost as bad. Their descriptions of President Clinton as a “turkey” and Hillary as a “witch” are classic examples of bigotry.
Just as bigoted are the frequent statements by so called black leaders who quickly compare Confederate symbols to Hitler’s swastika.
I love a good argument. I can lean more from watching two skilled debaters argue different sides of a subject than anything else. Skilled debaters will give you vast amounts of information gleaned from the news, official documents and the historical record. They can make a strong case for one set of data and show the weakness of their opponent’s facts.
A well conducted debate is one of the best sources of information to help voters decide how to cast their ballots. Any time our nation’s leadership is determined by well conducted debates we will be in good hands.
I despise the vindictive, vulgar; hate filled attacks of a bigot. And bigots come in all shapes, colors and beliefs. I make a real effort to shut my ears and eyes when they appear. The remote on my TV proves to be a very handy device as soon as a speaker displays the classic ravings of a bigot.
Dear friends: I will gladly discuss any subject with you. I will gladly engage you in a friendly debate on any subject where we disagree. But please make sure you are debating from a carefully reasoned position. As soon as you revert to name calling, profanity or references to Hitler, I shut you out.
Let’s discuss things in a civilized, thoughtful manner. We don’t have to be crude. We don’t have to revert to name calling. We do have to be logical, thoughtful and have documented proof of our facts.
We can learn a great deal from each other as long as we keep the bigotry out of our discussions.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is frankgillispie@charter.net.

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Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
January 21, 2004

A Moment With Margie

Talking about faith
What is faith?
That’s a question whose answer has been debated the world over since the dawn of mankind.
And I’m certainly not going to try to define it here or try to lecture anyone on what they should believe.
Sometimes I’m ashamed to say I have a hard time defining what faith is to me when someone questions me about what I believe, or about what I have faith in.
Sure, there are the big examples of how faith in God most certainly sustained me through the deaths of my parents and other family members; but sometimes it has been the relatively small things that have led me to believe the way I do, and that I am not alone.
One example, of many, that comes to mind is an incident when my daughter Miranda was about two years old.
She and I were home alone that day and she was playing with some toys in the middle of the den floor while I set some water to simmer on the back burner of the stove.
I had to take something outside, so although it was a cold day in February, I just slipped out the patio doors in my bare feet, my hair still damp from a shower. As I was scooting up the back steps in a hurry to get back inside, I heard the unmistakable “click” of the lock on the patio doors.
I looked up to see Miranda standing there, her little face pressed against the glass, grinning at me. I ran up the steps and tried the door and sure enough, it was locked. “Miranda,” I said, pointing to the lock while trying to hold my voice steady and my tone light, “push the little lever and unlock the door so Mama can come back in.” She continued to grin at me and pushed on the door, but it was clear she didn’t have a clue what she had done to lock it. (Later I found out she had even managed to push the night lock - which would have required her unlocking two locks to open it.)
I continued to talk to her so she wouldn’t wander off while I tried to think of what to do since I knew all the other doors and windows were also locked.
Our house was surrounded on three sides by woods and there was no other home visible from where I stood. I didn’t want to walk away from the door anyway in case Miranda wandered off somewhere where I couldn’t see what she was doing.
To my horror, I then remembered that I had the water on the stove and that there was also a fire in the wood stove. I immediately imagined Miranda wandering into the kitchen and taking a chair to get to the hot water, or burning herself on the wood stove; I imagined a thousand other things that could happen to her in the house alone while I tried to find help.
I thought of taking something and trying to break the glass door or a window, but then wondered how I would get my daughter far enough away so she wouldn’t be hurt.
After a few minutes (which seemed like a few hours) and despite my best efforts, I began to cry with fear and frustration, which of course made Miranda realize something was very wrong and start to whimper too.
At that moment, feeling completely helpless, I turned around, looked up, and cried out “Lord, please help me - I don’t know what to do.”
And I swear, at that moment I heard a voice say clearly, “Call Kenneth.”
Now Kenneth was a friend and farmer who lived across the road from us. It was mid-morning and I knew he would most likely be in his chicken houses or inside his home, and that both were located down in a valley below a large cow pasture.
There was no way he would be able to hear me, I reasoned. But I felt compelled to give it a try so I turned around, cupped my hands and shouted his name at the top of my lungs.
To my astonishment someone yelled “Hello!” almost immediately.
I was astounded; surely in my panic I was hearing things. I called his name and “Help!” again.
“I’m coming,” I heard a voice shout back.
Sure enough, in just a few seconds Kenneth’s old pick up came slowly up the road and pulled into our driveway. I had never been so glad to see anyone in my life. I explained the situation and he quickly got the tools he needed to get me inside to comfort my now crying little girl.
He asked me how I had known he was up in the pasture feeding his cows some hay, since it was well out of my line of vision.
“I didn’t know,” I said. “I asked God for help and He said, ‘call Kenneth,’ so I did.”
Kenneth just shook his head in amazement and we both laughed. After he left, I sat down and cried - tears of relief certainly, but mostly tears of thankfulness.
I’m convinced, as I have been many other times, that it was no coincidence that my neighbor was where he was that day - I believe there are very few coincidental things in this world.
To me, that’s faith - knowing that I, that none of us, are really alone.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.


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