Madison County Opinion...

OCTOBER 6, 2004

By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
October 6, 2004

Frankly Speaking

Beware of the liberal ‘rumormongers’
Somebody started a rumor. That rumor has spread like wildfire over the Internet and talk radio. The rumor is that the Bush administration is planning to reinstate the draft.
“The Bush Administration has two bills before Congress now to reinstate the draft,” the rumor declares. Well, there are two bills before Congress to reinstate the draft, but they are not the work of the Bush Administration or the Republicans.
Sen. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina and Rep. Charles Rangel of New York have introduced separate legislation to require both men and women to perform either military or civilian government service. These two men are among the most liberal of the nation’s Democrats. Other liberal Democrats, such as former presidential candidate John Howerel Dean and Georgia’s former Senator Max Cleland are pushing the idea.
Another hot rumor on the Internet and in the media is a charge that Republicans are actively trying to depress the black vote, especially in Florida. Never mind that various investigative bodies, including some members of the press, have found no evidence to support the rumor. You will never convince certain special interest groups that it is not true.
Now, I do not know who started the rumors flowing across the Internet. I can’t say that it was the work of Democratic operatives trying to discredit the Republicans. Rumors of this kind sometimes just emerge out of then air, somewhat like quantum particles.
I have an idea of what gives these rumors life once they start. Far too many Americans thrive on pre-conceived ideas and jump on any “fact,” true or not, that supports their ideas. The anti-war group in general and the Bush haters specifically need the draft rumor to be true in order to justify their beliefs. They accept the rumor as true without making any attempt to verify the statements it contains.
The same is true of those who attack Southern icons including flags, songs and statues. They declare loudly that Southern symbols represent slavery and racism. When confronted with evidence that they are wrong, they simply close their minds and ignore the evidence. Then they label everyone who disagrees with them as “racists.”
It appears to me that most of these “rumormongers” have a similar political agenda. They are for big government that interferes with personal liberty.
They are convinced that we are all incompetent and need government to run our lives for us. They are constantly on the lookout for anything that will discredit the small government supporters and give credence to their big government ideas.
The Republicans give lip service to the small government idea, although in practice they often abandon that principle. Southern culture strongly promotes limited government and individual liberty, an idea that the left finds totally repugnant.
That is what it is all about. That is why rumors, once started, can grow like wildfire. People with pre-conceived ideas and political agendas will jump on any rumor they like and repeat it endlessly. People who think for themselves, and check the facts, are not likely to fall for these rumors.
A great American humorist once said, “Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you read.” And don’t pass along rumors until you take the time to determine for yourself the validity of their content.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is His website can be accessed at

By Jana Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
October 6, 2004

The historic sites I go out of my way to avoid
I am interested in history and learning about historical sites, but I’ll admit it, there is one historical site — no make that two sites — in Charleston, S.C., that I will go out of my way, way out of my way, to avoid.
The old Cooper River Bridge and its “sister,” the Silas N. Pearman Bridge strike fear in me — giant expanses of high, criss-crossing steel — truss bridges — atop what looks surely to me like rotten wood (although logically I’m sure it’s not), spanning the Cooper River and connecting Charleston to Mt. Pleasant.
Of course I had noticed the structures during visits to that wonderful old Southern city. How could you not notice them against the skyline? In the distance, I mean.
Who knew those bridges could cause such sudden panic?
During a trip a few years ago, we made an accidental turn when trying to find our way back to Folly Beach and found ourselves headed directly toward one of the dreaded bridge pair. I was driving and I was fine, but suddenly, as the cage of the bridge closed in and I noticed how low (and, in my state of panic, how unsturdy) the side rails appeared, I experienced a strange and unpleasnt phenomenon.
Bridge fear.
My hands began to sweat, my heart set off at a gallop and the car in the lane right next to me, heading along with me toward Mt. Pleasant, seemed unbelievably close. There was nothing to do but, sweating bullets, continue the (slow, slow, slow) drive across the endless bridge.
In a near panic, as we exited the bridge, I turned the car to head back to Charleston, only to be faced with the inevitable twin bridge. The same, only worse, because I had already done it once. Nowhere to turn around or pull off, so Zach watched worriedly as we made our shaking way across.
“I had no idea,” he said in a quiet, somewhat awed voice.
Well, guess what, I didn’t either.
I had a milder experience years ago when, after college, a friend and I decided to drive up to Maine. Along the way, we encountered all kinds of waterways and bridges. No problems with the long cement bridges typical of interstates and highways. No panic with the draw bridges or even with the bridge-tunnel which passes under water and up into Newport News, Va., although, admittedly, it was somewhat disconcerting to see water dripping down the tunnel walls.
But there was something about those suspension bridges and those cagelike structures that gave me a sense of uneasiness. And I wasn’t the only one. My friend and I tried to talk each other into being the one to drive over those spans. As we neared our destination, we looked out the window to our right and saw this unbelievable suspension bridge seemingly miles above a ravine. Whew. Thank goodness we don’t have to cross that. The road curved around and, suddenly, the bridge was in front of us. Beyond that, Bar Harbor. No choice, we had to do it. Even then, I didn’t have that sweaty-palmed panic I felt when faced, irrevocably, with the cage of the Cooper River Bridge.
Now I know better. And now we’ll sometimes go all around the city of Charleston when we visit, taking twists and turns just to make sure we don’t face those twin horrors.
We visited Charleston and Folly Beach over the weekend — in between storms, as it turns out — and Zach teased me about doing whatever I could to not cross those bridges. I was very aware of them whenever we made our way to and from the beach, careful to maneuver us away from them, whether I was driving or not. My heart sped up as we drove near them and there was even the slightest chance I might get trapped on them.
I’m just looking out for your safety, I said.
That’s the wrong way to go, anyway, away from the beach, I added.
And it was.
Now I notice that a huge new bridge is being built, and I’ve read that the eight-lane “cable story span” bridge will replace the old trussed horrors and will be North America’s longest of its type.
But that bridge doesn’t fill me with alarm. I’ve looked at pictures of it and it has high, airy cables and what looks like plenty of space. It should be traffic-ready by the summer of 2005.
I’ve also learned about the existing bridges — best to know about your fears, I suppose. The Cooper River Bridge was built in 1929 and has long been viewed as one of the city’s significant landmarks, since it was a help in pulling the city out of the Depression ear doldrums as a direct link to the north. The second, larger bridge was built in 1966. A book has being written about the two — The Great Cooper River Bridge — and includes lots of photographs.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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