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YEAR IN REVIEW: The Most ‘Liked’ Letters of 2012


Compiled by Paul T. Choate

Dec. 31, 2012. Letters to the editor have been around just about as long as newspapers have. These letters from community members are often times the best gauge of what the locals are talking about and are a favorite of many newspaper readers. This is true on our website as well, as our letters to the editor section has become one of the most popular on the entire site. We have received some great letters this year and decided it was fitting to let our local readers decide the best ones. Here are the top five most Facebook “liked” letters of 2012. 

1. Congratulations to the Supporters of Amendment One

By Matthew Robinson
May 9

Dear Editor:

Congratulations to the supporters of Amendment One for your great victory. Your concern that North Carolina’s state statute banning gay marriage might be overturned by some “activist judge” led you to amend the state Constitution to say that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.” Ironically, since no one knows for sure how this change will impact straight (but unmarried) people with children who have joint custody or visitation rights, or unmarried people who have experienced domestic violence, or unmarried people with domestic partner benefits, it is the courts who will ultimately decide what Amendment One means. So congratulations for assuring that activist judges will have the final say on these matters. I hope you can at least see the irony.

But don’t let that get you down. Because now that gay marriage is illegal by both state statute and state Constitution, our (straight) marriages are safe! We no longer have to worry about our (straight) marriages being threatened anymore by gay people who also just want to live in lifelong, committed relationships. And since our (straight) marriages are no longer under attack by gay people who have such a strange desire to enjoy the same benefits of marriage that we enjoy, I suppose we no longer have to worry about things like: (straight male) married Presidents engaging in “sexual relations” in the oval office with female interns (Bill Clinton); (straight male) married Congressmen having affairs with their secretaries while their wives are ill in the hospital (Newt Gingrich), or sending pictures of their “wieners” to much younger female college students via “sexting” messages (Anthony Weiner); (straight male) married Senators having affairs with (also married and straight female) staffers (John Ensign), or fathering children with their mistresses (John Edwards); (straight male) married mayors cheating on their wives (Rudy Guiliani); (straight male) married Governors fathering children with their mistresses (Arnold Schwarzeneger), or having affairs with women living abroad (Mark Sanford), or hiring prostitutes who then go on to eventually air their dirty laundry for the world to see (Eliot Spitzer). And certainly, we no longer have to worry about (supposedly straight) Senators soliciting sex from men in airport bathrooms (Larry Craig) and Congressmen sending flirty emails to male staffers (Mark Foley), or groping male employees (Eric Massa).

All of these are now things of the past because, finally, our (straight) marriages are safe. So, again, thanks for voting for Amendment One. You’ve saved us straight married folks.

2. God Is Not Up for a Vote, Nor Should He Be

By Jesse Steele
Nov. 3

Dear Editor,

So my previous letter raised a question in the comment section. “Jesse are you a Christian?” And I’ve been spending the past few weeks thinking of how to answer this, finally I’ve settled on one. “Why should it matter if I am?”

But what am I when you get right down to it? Two of the most dreaded words in the tea party lexicon. The secular spiritualist. One who does believe in a higher power. Just not Jesus (the myths and miracles) or god as the bible tells it. After all no one has proven he doesn’t exist. But than again no one has proven if god is a he, she, ten people, or just one guy with a lot of different beards. So why should I confine myself to just one? Though in that regard I do share a belief with an often misquoted founding father by the name of Thomas Jefferson. Once you dump the superstitions and magic contained in the bible Jesus (the man) has a lot to teach us about how to live ones life. Notably those qualities of love, even to ones enemies (Matthew 5:43-48 )  Also treating the least among us as one would treat the lord. (Matthew 25:35-40) And how ones belief should be private and not done to be seen, or as I will still call it the exact opposite of junk food for Jesus day. Not to mention many a megachurch across this country. (Matthew 6:5-6)

And it’s because of these personal beliefs I could wake up tomorrow and it wouldn’t matter if I was Pagan, Baptist, Wiccan, Jewish, Buddhist, (gasp!) Muslim, or (double gasp!) Atheist. It wouldn’t matter if I was worshiping Zeus, Loki, or the flying spaghetti monster. I would still do my best to try and treat people with respect, kindness, courtesy, and make the world a better place for everyone. 

That is because who I am and how I should act comes from who I was taught to be by those around me. Such as my aunt who did teach Sunday school when I was younger, and still brags about getting kicked out of three churches in Sparta for the crime of “Having the temerity to question the pastor while being a woman.” I credit her with teaching me that true character doesn’t come from how a book says you should act, and it doesn’t come from just saying you’re part of a religion. I don’t need angelic carrots or brimstone sticks to keep my morality “inside the lines” so to speak. All I need is a spiritual belief best summed up by the golden rule, and the opinion that said belief is no ones business but my own.

But Vice President Biden summed it up well during his debate. To paraphrase a bit, how and more importantly what I belief should not be made your business either. Or forced upon others because I think it’s right.  Doing such a thing violates both sides what I’ve come to call “the real Amendment One” Freedom of religion and freedom from it too. Or that other pesky phrase that drives every right wing evangelical nuts. “Separation of church and state.”

Here’s the part where someone will tell me “But it doesn’t say that in the constitution!” To which I will reply, “You are correct good sir, but the words Jesus Christ, Christianity, Bible, Creator, Divine, and God” are also never mentioned in the Constitution, not even once.” 

“But it says creator in the declaration of independence!” To which I will say, “Which first off is a historical document, not the laws we are governed by. Secondly can you find any reference to Christianity? No you can’t. But you can find the phrase’s Nature’s God and Divine Providence. The language of deists, not Christians. Otherwise known as  John Adams,   Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.”

Speaking of the declaration though, lets look at one other phrase in it. 

“When a long train of abuses and usurpations… evinces a design to reduce (the people) under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…”

And compare it with. 

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore whoever resist authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13:1)

Or maybe we could just go with the simple and straightforward “For rebellion as is the sin of witchcraft.”  (Samuel, 15:23)

So in that regard if the founders had literally followed blind adherence to the bible would the revolution have even happened? God save the queen?

I can think of no better example to fit another personal saying. “Your beliefs do not make you a better person, your behavior does.” And as the past few years have gone by both my spiritual and civic belief  has found itself repulsed by the behavior of people on the right. Zealots and Hypocrites who claim a monopoly on “morality” on the basis of religious labels alone. And then are making it even more toxic with right wing wrapped in the flag views. Ones that state only they are the true defenders of “Patriotism” and “American Values”

Such as the Christian who wants me to believe “Every life is sacred” And will do everything in their power from the moment of conception to protect that precious little person. Until it’s born of course. But afterwards? That single mother they applauded for making the right choice? What happens when she applies for government assistance so she and that baby don’t starve? Well that’s when the right winger accuses her of suckling off the federal teat! Why doesn’t she get a job! Why should I have to use my money to help her! Or as Mitt Romney put it “Part of the 47% that won’t take responsibility for their lives.” 

A man supported by these same “Defenders of freedom from government intrusion in our lives” who think a forced physical intrusion into a woman (vaginal ultrasound laws) are perfectly fine if it keeps her from having that abortion. 

People who support a man that says about abortion, “There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology,” (Republican Joe Walsh of Illinois)

To have a mini newsroom moment here. The united states currently ranks 50th. That’s FIVE ZERO in maternal deaths globally.

 The United States spends $98 billion annually on hospitalization for pregnancy and childbirth, but the US maternal mortality rate has doubled in the past 25 years.

The U.S. has the highest maternal death rate of any industrialized nation, with a 1 in 2,100 risk of dying in childbirth; women in the U.S. are seven times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than a woman in Ireland or Italy.

Infant mortality rates in the U.S. aren’t much better. The under-5 mortality rate in the U.S. is 8 per 1,000 births, which puts it behind 40 other countries.

We are also the only developed country, and one of only a handful of countries worldwide that does not guarantee paid leave for working moms. Instead, by law, new mothers get 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Greatest healthcare system in the world? Where’s the outrage over that? Where’s the respect for “Sanctity of life” now? 

Oh right it’s busy attacking planned parenthood. You know that place where women can get HIV tests, cancer screenings (such as the one a friend of the fiancee received) treatment for STD’s, counseling services, sexual education on how to -prevent- unwanted pregnancy that is more than “just don’t have sex”, and basic medical care.

Oh and abortions, you know the part where Federal dollars can’t be spent, unlike the list above. Thanks in part to both Hyde amendment language in the new health care laws despite protests by PP about it’s inclusion. And on top of that Executive Order 13535 by President Obama. Which states flat out no federal money goes to abortion. Any time a Republican tells you that federal dollars are being spent in that regard? I won’t mince words, they are lying, pure and simple. And what’s worse, it’s a pandering lie to drum up culture warrior votes on the backs of women. Yes it’s a war, and yes they are on the wrong side.

Which side is there’s?  The bizzaro world that thinks outlawing abortion and a total lack of any sexual education besides abstinence works. Even though we have proof right here it did. As evidenced by this snip from the Democrat back on 12/29/11 when Watauga had the lowest teen pregnancy rate in the entire state.

Kay Phillips, executive director of the prevention campaign, cited changes in sex education enacted in 2009 as a reason for the decrease. “North Carolina has gotten smarter about investing in comprehensive programs that are proven to help young people avoid sex and be responsible about contraceptive use when they eventually become sexually active,” Phillips said. “Now we’re seeing the payoff, and it’s great news for North Carolina.” The prevention campaign estimated that the major reduction in teen pregnancies during the last two decades has saved more than $7.7 billion to state taxpayers. (http://www2.wataugademocrat.com/Letters/story/Wataugas-teen-pregnancy-rate-NCs-lowest-id-006654)

Can’t have that though, we need to stop the immoral practices of teaching kids about sex, and of course outlaw abortions at the same time. After all women NEVER died in backrooms when it was illegal. They never thought about crossing the border to Mexico for unregulated medications to induce a miscarriage thanks to Texas cutting family planning services and restricting abortions.

Oh wait, that last one is 2012, silly me. 

And if you want to talk “Life of the mother” Is this the world that abortion foes want here? One where the mother is  meaningless so long as that precious little person in her is protected?

Where is the respect for the sanctity of her life?

Just to play guess the quote, tell me which of these is Article 37 of the Dominican Constitution.

“We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”

“the right to life is inviolable from the moment of conception and until death.”

If you guessed the first? Good job you support language included in the republican party platform. The same platform that does outlaw abortion in every instance. No exceptions. No matter how much moderate Mitt might also lie about it.

And if it’s not abortion it’s birth control too. Where once again the Christian right is crying foul over how the presidents “Secular agenda.” Is destroying their freedom. They’re being forced to violate their beliefs! And yet the “patriot” sees no problem in challenging this. The nerve of the president to think a woman might know more about decisions regarding her own body than her bible thumping boss.  It’s his “right” to say she doesn’t’ get birth control based on “his belief”

But isn’t that the EXACT same thing you’re attacking the president for?

Of course not, it’s freedom of religion! Why should we have to do something that goes against our views! 

Because I will say it again, freedom FROM religion!  No one is forcing you to take the pills, no one is forcing you to buy a health care plan that allows it. But what we are forcing you to accept is not everyone shares the same belief as you. And to claim that the only way you can protect your freedom is by denying that very same freedom to others is again pure utter do as I say not as I do hypocrisy. 

So what is the moral plan being suggested? Well if you believe this August letter from the National Catholic Bioethics Center. (http://www.ncbcenter.org/document.doc?id=450&erid=0) “Dropping all coverage appears to be the most morally sound approach,” 

The saying cut the nose to spite the face comes to mind as well. Or maybe Matthew 7:1-3. And one of these days someone will have to explain to me how denying people possibly vital health insurance is either moral or Christian.  Because I don’t see it. 

Though what I do see is an ongoing campaign by right wing Christian fundamentalists trying to shape America in their image, and return us to “morality” and “Traditional Christian American Values” seen through their warped prism. Then pairing that with the pathological republican hatred of all things Obama and liberal. And adding on top a dangerous belief that the bible trumps the constitution. As evidenced by another passage in said letter.
“Most importantly, we are impelled to recall the distinct moral obligation of all persons of conscience, and especially Catholics, to resist unjust laws. This duty was outlined explicitly by our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Evangelium vitae: “There is no obligation in
Conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. . . . In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, . . . it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it.”

And to think, it was only a few decades back when some were worried that John Kennedy would be a pope puppet. My how things have changed.

But someone remind me, what is the name of that system of government where we obey a supreme religious figure over an elected president? I don’t think we practice it here, but I know there’s someplace that does…starts with an I…on the tip of my tongue…

And this is not anti religion, it’s anti hypocrisy. Such as the continued Hypocrisy where people here in Watauga county were perfectly fine with a man like Jerry Boykin coming to give a speech. A man whose anti Islam tendencies are quite well known. A man who said.

“Today is the day that you need to make up your mind that you need to be a warrior in God’s kingdom”

“Stand strong and use the weapons that God has given us to be a spiritual army.”

And if I had said those very same sentences had been uttered by an Inman in a mosque? How fast would those cheering Gen Boykin have called that imaginary Muslim a terrorist? If I said those words were uttered in the United States how many would have accused him of the Christian’s right’s newest bogeyman du jour. The exact same way Boykin is on record doing.

“More recently, Boykin said in a short online video for The Oak Initiative that Islam “should not be protected under the First Amendment, particularly given that those following the dictates of the Quran are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and to replace it with Sharia law.” (http://www2.wataugademocrat.com/News/story/Lt-Gen-calls-for-spiritual-warriors-id-008826)

Which of course is nothing like when Gen Boykin also said during his speech.  “We need to turn back to trusting in the Lord, and not in the government.” So Christian values subverting the government is fine because it’s the “good guy” religion? We can ignore the first amendment when it suits us because we’re the moral ones? This is the behavior of a freedom loving patriot?

Do as I say, not as I do…

Such as the continued hypocrisy by those freedom lovers who will tell us how we need to “Support the troops!”  and we need a strong military to defend our values. Ones such as “Traditional marriage.”

Traditional marriage like when daughters were traded for three cows and a goat?

Traditional marriage like when daughters had no say in who they were married off too? And love was a secondary concern if one at all?

Oh you meant traditional marriage between one man and one woman?

Guess that rules out Esau (3) Jacob (2 + concubine) Gideon (many + concubine) 

Same goes for Deuteronomy 21:15-17 Which details how a man with two wives (beloved and hated) must acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn.

Though I guess if we narrow it to one man and one woman there is Deuteronomy 21:10-14 Which says how women in war can be forced to marry their captors.

Or of course Deuteronomy 22:28-29 Where Rapists were forced to pay fifty shekels of silver and marry the woman they took. Though these days another question comes to mind, does he still have to if it wasn’t a “legitimate” rape?

But none of those little details matter in the quest to defend marriage. Same with the many Biblical passages regarding things like adultery that the Christian is strangely silent on. Even as the right wing republican pulls his selective scripture out to tell us why the LGBT community doesn’t deserve the same rights as the rest of us. Even as Pastors tell us how “Immoral” such a thing is. Like this fellow here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdGs_rA-DUA (make sure to watch till the very end)

Oops, or not. Maybe when I hear people say we have to take our country back is the time they were referring too?

But heaven forbid gay people think they could have equality in America right? The fact it is 2012 yet we have people who are willing to let LGBT members of the armed forces fight and die for us. But then they come home to a country where we tell them you don’t deserve equality. And where an openly gay serviceman is booed by the audience for admitting who he is and what he had to hide till now? (Republican Primary debate 09/22/11) This is ok with you America?

Even though Don’t ask Don’t Tell repeal is now over a year old, and guess what? Not a thing happened. Funny how all that right wing doom didn’t show.

In that regard I’m still waiting for one of my favorite threats to come true too. Remember this one from the Liquor by the drink debate Boone?

“Vilas resident Jimmy Galgano said he had once been an alcoholic and drug addict, and the purpose of his presence at the hearing was to preserve the safety and welfare of not only the community, but of America. He said the country was founded on “good, godly morals, but somewhere along the lines, politics took over.” “How many kids have to die because we want to make more money for our town?” he Galgano said. “If you vote ‘yes’ for this, I tell you, you’re going to have the blood of little babies on your hands.” (http://www.wataugademocrat.com/2008/0421/0425MixedDrink.php)

Still waiting. Though one other part of that hearing is worth noting too, specifically this line.

But the boardroom capacity could hardly contain the droves of concerned community members that congregated on the sidewalks of downtown Boone. Many of them donned yellow T-shirts, bearing a crossed-out cocktail glass and the words “No liquor by the drink in Boone.” The shirts were reportedly distributed by an area church, and congregational members from many were on hand to voice opposition to liquor by the drink.

So if the bible wasn’t involved, and we saw a group of people dressing alike, talking alike, thinking alike, and accepting without question the words of a man who claimed a connection to a higher power. Would we be calling that a cult? Maybe yes, maybe no, but it brings to mind another quote from Jefferson.

“Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind.” (Thomas Jefferson to James Smith, 1822)

Unthinking, unquestioning, adherence to dogma, literalistic interpretations of scripture on one hand, or outright twisting on the other (wine was just grape juice anybody?) It was wrong then, it was still wrong when the same close minded justifications on top of selective scripture were used to pass Amendment one, and twenty years from now it will still be wrong to wrap ones prejudice in the flag or the bible.

But I guess if you fast forward to today it fits right in with religious extremism letting  someone like Jonathan Jordan get away with his newest anti Cullie Tarleton ad in the mountain times. An ad where one of Cullie’s endorsements is listed as equality NC (a group that supports LGBT rights), and this can be considered a reason to vote against him?! 

The fact that shameless no brow bigotry like this can be considered mainstream political discourse is summed up in one word. Reprehensible. And I agree with Cullie, enough is enough.

It’s time to say enough to people who can’t understand that giving someone equal rights takes nothing from you.

It’s time to say enough to those who preach hate from a pulpit and call it “Morality.”

It’s time to say enough to those would use the bible to try and enforce their own twisted values and political agendas upon us, But than have the nerve to try and call it “Religious freedom.”

It’s time to say enough to those who think freedom only belongs to those of us that are white, straight, male, and part of the narrowest of the narrow minded sects of what passes for Christianity.

It’s time to say enough to people (and you know who you are) who wear their “faith family freedom” hats. And your “Tree of liberty” Jefferson shirts. The ones who spout those three words like a children’s nursery rhyme and yet have no clue about their true meaning.

When your faith is so weak and so easily shaken it needs a chicken sandwich a day to keep the scary gays away. When prayer in schools becomes “Sharia!” the second a Muslim child rolls out the prayer mat. Or devil worship when Pagans want to offer a different brand of prayer before the football game. Or you let charlatans like Mike Huckabee put out an ad that basically says voting for Obama means you’re going to hell without question. Or you are perfectly fine with a Huckster like Franklin Graham hijacking the words of his father, and try to convince you that the only thing god cares about is abortion and gays. When you seem more interested if not obsessed with an eternal reward above to the point where you don’t care about the damage you cause on a earth below. And what does that sound like? Exactly what you think I’m implying.

When you are fine with talking to me about how important your religious freedom is. Yet are fine with despicable behavior like this at a rally in Jomeokee Park. “It’s not just Islam that’s taking over,” Kevin Shinault, one of the organizers of Saturday’s event, told the crowd. “It’s socialism creeping in.” (Winston Salem Journal 9/23/12) 

So freedom for only your religion, and freedom to force it upon others at a whim?

When family should only be one man one woman. Even if it’s a family where dad spouts the N word on a daily basis and mom is a good little subservient housewife. Even if it’s a family on par with the Phelps clan teaching their child everything about the bible and nothing about civics. Oh and go ahead and hate those gay kids because of their immoral hurricane causing lifestyle. God is on your side!  How bout even if it’s a family where the parents are crooks, con artists and liars, and have zero morals whatsoever?

But yet any of those would be more preferable than a gay couple teaching a child to practice kindness and courtesy. To teach him respect for others. To tell him he shouldn’t bully others because how would he feel if someone did it to him. To teach him to think for himself and not blindly question what those in power (be it the preacher or the president) say. Well that’s the gay agenda, he’s being corrupted to accept the differences we all have! HORROR! 

And when you practice a brand of lazy freedom. The sound bite society of cheap shots and self insulated media bubbles. Snake oil simplicity that promises a return to the good old days when we didn’t have to deal with these messy issues of equality. When the only freedom you had to worry about is the freedom of those who agree with you. When you don’t lift one finger to defend someone who can do nothing for you. When a dissenting view is just the “liberal media” a “skewed poll” or they should be run out of town for insulting someone you like. When you wear the costume but have no respect for the values those people died for. When you claim to love America seem to hate Americans.

To quote one of my favorite movies again. 

 America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.” You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms.

Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.
(The American President)

But when you fail to do that, and you then decide to wrap that flag around your bible and claim all you do is in the name of religion. Well lets stick with Sorkin, but let Jeff Daniels and “the newsroom” do the talking. Full clip here for those who never saw it. And the tea party hate is there for all to see. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGAvwSp86hY

[Will McAvoy]
What’s more frightening than the perversion of our great history is that sensible strong smart Republicans, the very men and women who should be standing up to radical fundamentalism, are so frightened in losing primary battles to religious zealots that they’ve thrown in the towel on sanity. So we get this:

[Video Of John Sidney McCain]
Yes, that the constitution established the United States as a Christian nation.

[Will McAvoy]
It’s ironic because the biggest enemy of the phony Republican isn’t Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or Hillary Clinton or Barak Obama. It’s this man. [image of Jesus Christ displays]. He said ‘Heal the sick. Feed the hungry. Care for the weakest among us. And always pray in private. ‘

Ideological purity
Compromise as weakness (see the attacks on Chris Christie for daring to compliment Obama)
A fundamentalist belief in scriptural literalism
Denying science
Unmoved by facts
Undeterred by new information
A hostile fear of progress
A demonetization of education (NC general assembly anyone?)
A need to control women’s bodies
Severe xenophobia
Tribal mentality
Intolerance of dissent 
A pathological hatred of the US government

They can call themselves the Tea Party. They can call themselves Conservatives. And they can even call themselves Republicans. Though Republican’s certainly shouldn’t. But we should call them what they are: The American Taliban.

A parting thought from me as well. The original motto of this country was “Out of many, one.” Not “In god we trust” which was adopted in 1956. Same way we added “under god” to the pledge in 1954. Back when “Godless Commies” were still the bogeymen of the day. 

Or those who wanted equal rights for all were described as “The Worcester Fanatics- -Progress of Socialism, Abolition, and Infidelity.” 

Oh…got my own notes mixed up, that headline was from the New York Herald, Tuesday, October 29, 1850. And was an article attacking those who wanted suffrage for women. 

Seriously Christian right? I think you need some new material.

And to those who I hope are sufficiently outraged now, let me tell you this. I may think Deborah Greene and her bible should be nowhere near a school board. I may think A Watauga Conservative is a cesspit of hate and parroting of every right  wing tinfoil hat lie out there. I may think the republican party is wrong on every issue and a disaster for this country should they win. But I’m still enough of an American to say that if it came right down to it I would lay my life on the line to defend their rights to say what they do. Because that’s true patriotism, that’s what America really is. Can you say the same? Or is telling me to shut up, running me out of town, and just hiding in your 53% of the country easier?

Something to think about when you do go to vote on the 6th. And when you do I hope you vote what you truly believe in, not what someone else thinks you should, not how a religion says you should, not how some talking head on TV says you should, not blind allegiance to one side or the other. They aren’t in that voting booth, you are.

We now return you to your sugar coated media bubble.

3. In Reference to Phil Templeton’s Letter

By Paula Finck
Oct. 24

One of the reasons a lot of people do not vote is their lack of time to research how their elected officials voted on various issues and the new candidates platform. Pam Williamson does her research on local, state and national candidates and presents her point of view in bare bones language. I found her website PamsPicks.net a good source of information along with votesmart.org and publiccitizen.org and Citizens for Political Responsibility.

Mr. Templeton’s vicious attacks on Pam Williamson’s integrity surprised and alarmed me. Pam is doing what we all could do if we are dedicated; take time to find out who we are voting for. Making bad remarks about another person’s point of view produces stalemate and stops the process of growth. Dialogue is the best way to promote cooperation between our two political factions. It takes time to listen and try to understand the other person’s point of view without using hateful language.

4. Fanatical Political Activism of “Pam’s Picks”

By Phil Templeton
Oct. 22

Dear Editor,

Webster’s defines a demagogue as “ one who tries to stir up people’s emotions so as to gain power”. There is no better example of demagoguery than Pam Williamson as evidenced by her years of fanatical political activism and the comments recently posted on her web site along with “Pam’s Picks” (a virtual instruction book for voters she apparently believes, or hopes, are too stupid or ill- informed to make their own decisions. Pam’s comments reinforce her public image as a mean spirited, pseudo-intellectual, political hack who uses character assassination and unsubstantiated charges (bordering on slander) to attack her enemies.

Pam seemingly harbors a deep resentment or even hatred of any who are not of her political persuasion or who have succeeded beyond what she considers to be an acceptable financial threshold. There appears to be an element of self-loathing behind her attacks, perhaps due in part to the fact that her only claim to fame is the ability to distort the electoral process by manipulating people and creating discord. She appears to have devoted her life to recruiting well- meaning but unsuspecting foot soldiers to support her personal choices for political office and attack other candidates and their supporters.

For those who already question Pam’s warped vision of democracy, her latest ramblings and distortions should remove all doubt. Her recent posting was a sophomoric attempt to smear many of the candidates she opposes. In the process, she couldn’t resist the urge to attack a registered independent, non-candidate by referring to me as Boone’s “mega developer” and “Boss Hogg”. ( If one chooses to stoop to Pam’s level one would refer to her as “Pam McNasty”. While “Miss Piggy” might be another appropriate label, that would be an unfair insult to pigs everywhere)

I have always been appreciative of the business opportunities I have been afforded by the citizens of Boone and I am not ashamed of the businesses and commercial development I and others have risked financial loss to provide. To the contrary, I am proud that I and others have been recognized for our efforts by having received the Alfred Adams Community Development Award presented each year by the Chamber of Commerce for exceptional development. The thought of honoring developers is more than Pam’s twisted philosophy of life can tolerate and undoubtedly causes her severe anxiety and heartburn.

Despite all the good that Pam could accomplish if her efforts were directed to promoting cooperation between political factions, she and her disciples have done and continue to do irreparable harm to the democratic process and to the harmony of our town and county.

Understandably, her words and deeds are a constant embarrassment to many fine people who belong to the political party Pam strives to hijack. I hope all citizens will vote for the candidates of their choice and suggest to Pam that she take a good laxative to relieve the heartburn and irrational hatred which seem to cause her so much discomfort.

5. Enough With the Blame Game Already

By Jesse Steele
May 23

Dear Editor

So, I have a question for Watauga County. How many of us out there have, at some point, decided it would be easier to plagiarize another work, change some words around, and then put it out there as our own? The trick is making sure you do it well enough that the teacher never discovers your source.



Of course, in Ms. Carter’s case, it’s not really plagiarizing so much as parroting. And let’s call these crocodile tears exactly what they are: they’re nothing more then a continuation of the personal vendetta that the local Republican leadership has against the ASU campus, and a baldfaced attempt to disenfranchise the students in the name of fairness. Another dose of double speak from Ms. Greene and surrogates like Ms. Carter, which is compounded by the hypocrisy of accusing the BOE of a “partisan agenda”. Ms. Greene clearly states in the above link that her own plan would make it harder for Democratic areas of the county to vote. But that’s not a partisan ploy at all, right? 

I wonder, will either Ms. Greene or Ms. Carter join me in filing a complaint to the BOE about Three Forks Baptist being an improper polling place given their open campaigning against Amendment One? Clearly Ms. Hodges had a partisan agenda for letting a heavily Republican area conduct voting operations!

And since it doesn’t carry well in print…yes, that is sarcasm. But it’s also page one of the new GOP playbook. To quote President Andrew Shepard (Michael Douglas, “The American President”): “Whatever your problem is, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. Bob Rumson is interested in two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who is to blame for it. That is how you win elections.” Sound like anyone we know? Or a certain amendment vote? 

Just replace “Persecuted Christians being silenced by a pro-gay, anti-religion agenda!” with “Rural Residents unable to have their voices heard thanks to Boone and ASU!” Different lyrics, same song. And another hefty dose of projection on top, as once again we see the Republicans trying to play the victim card; even as their solution seems to be, as usual, victimizing others.

Let’s face facts here. Virtually every voting precinct in Watauga County is, on average, a 15-30 minute drive from Boone. There is ample parking on Queen Street to walk to the courthouse. Ms. Carter’s own letter shows there was over a week of early voting. And yet, somehow the town of Boone kept you from coming to vote? ASU kept you from showing up until May 8? How hard would it have been to (as I did) leave an hour early for work to go vote?

“But I work an 8AM – 5PM shift so I couldn’t!” Are you in Boone? Do you have a lunch hour? Did you consider asking your employer for permission to be a little late? What about a day off?

To turn a voter ID argument around: “It’s too far for Grandma to drive and vote!” So why don’t you go to help her get there? Why don’t you organize a get out the vote drive to get people to town? Why don’t you make an actual effort to engage and do your civic duty? Is whining and blaming everyone but yourself easier? That’s the kind of behavior that befits a 12 year old, not people who claim to lead a major political party. Every citizen of Watauga had ample opportunity to go vote. So if you didn’t get off the couch to do so, you have no one to blame but yourself.

To quote “The American President” again, “This a time for serious people Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up.”  We have real problems that need solving, and real leaders to work on them. Not people who continue to throw these little temper tantrums every time a vote goes against them. Not people who continue to think governance means inciting hatred and division. And we certainly don’t need people (like in the above linked blog) that treat a Democrat-sponsored plan to allow young people easier one-stop voting and registration on college universities as a liberal plot against them.

And that’s the level your local Republicans are sinking too. Patriots in name only, who now think even the ability to vote should only belong to those who share their view. How very American of them.

High Country Press does not verify the information in the letters to the editor submitted to the webpaper and does not endorse the positions expressed in the letters. The opinions and assertions are those of the writers alone. To submit a letter to the editor, email ken@highcountrypress.com.