Now, y’all without sin go ahead and throw that first stone…
I come from a small town. (Cue John Mellencamp music.) It’s a great place to live, if you like majestic mountains, winning sports teams, and knowing your neighbors. If, however, you’re an outsider—and act like one—you’re liable to find yourself on the wrong side of an angry mob, and that’s just what happened to my local newspaper editor.
Mr. Editor has a habit of evoking strong emotions from the townspeople, and many of those emotions are not the warm and fuzzy variety. In fact, he’s downright despised by many for his editorial style, and his sheer lack of what proper folk refer to as “good manners.
So, after his most recent insensitive op-ed, the villagers rallied and organized a (Facebook) protest—which quickly escalated to personal attacks, finger-pointing, insults and threats of violence against Mr. Editor.
Lord, I love an underdog! Perhaps that’s why I inexplicably threw myself on the proverbial sword, taking a stand for the First Amendment. I fired off a letter to the publisher, threatening to rescind my contract and never contribute another column if he fired Mr. Editor. Then, I posted it publicly, for the entire (Facebook) world to see.
“Mom, how do you think this is going to work out for you?” asked Pockets.
Well, actually… I’m not really sure. What I do know is I witnessed a modern-day gladiator fight and, like Saint Telemachus, raced into the arena, crying, “Stop! Don’t you people see what you’re doing?!” knowing full well I may be stoned to (professional) death.
The response was swift. I lost followers. Protestors posted about me in groups and forums. Childhood friends blocked me. It was the equivalent of all my years of high school rejection, rolled into a few torturous hours.
I practiced great restraint in not fingering the man crying foul over ethics as the married Mr. Taylor, who’s asked me seven times for a date. I didn’t out the business owner yammering on about professionalism as Shirley Thompson, who’d clearly had more than a nip of gin last time I was in her store. I even held back when Mr. Baker, whose secretary mysteriously had to leave town, suggested someone delve into Mr. Editor’s past to find any dirty secrets buried there.
I deserve a medal, y’all.
True, I had to pry Mr. Wright off the ceiling when he found out what I’d done, as he was certain our businesses would be forever ruined, and we’d end up homeless. “Martyrdom does not pay well,” he reminded me.
But Pockets’s question brought it home. I realized, no matter what happens to my column, my livelihood, or my reputation, I was doing exactly what I want my kids to do when they see injustice in the world… Take a stand.
Surely, this winter when we’re huddled around a campfire under a bridge, eating beans out of a can, the kids will be proud of their mother. Right?