Jesus said if your hand offends you, cut it off. Edmund Burke (we think) said you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
The Columbia County Exchange Club just had both experiences, and got slapped for their trouble.
Charities have benefited greatly over the years from the club’s concerts at the Imperial Theater featuring Ed Turner and Number 9.
This year’s performance brought a new twist, however, and what appears to be an end to the relationship.
If you haven’t heard the story, here’s a recap: Turner, a veteran Augusta performer, punctuates the shows with quips and commentary. This year’s target was everyone’s current favorite punching bag: Ricardo “GRU” Azziz.
Apparently some of Turner’s comments gave big wheels in the audience a case of the vapors, so Columbia County Exchange Club President Chip Lowe sent Turner a note letting him know they were offended. He also suggested Turner apologize to them. Turner responded, in essence, for the club to take a hike.
“We have allowed your Club to partner with us for six years, and during that time over $300,000 has been raised through ticket sales alone,” Turner writes.
“We will continue to perform and give back to the community, but with another club. We had a good 6-year run with your Club, but today it ends. Ed Turner and Number 9 will no longer partner with the Columbia County Exchange Club.”
Now, here’s a part you might not have heard. I’ve been fortunate to have been invited several times to speak to the Exchange Club. They’re a great group of men and women who are able to leverage their small numbers into great things for our community.
A couple of years ago, a few of the members told me they were thinking about bringing in different artists to perform the annual benefit rather than being locked in with Turner. There wasn’t any friction with Number 9, they said; they just thought it would be a good idea to mix things up.
Well, mission accomplished – though certainly not the way they intended. Good luck to them in salvaging the fundraiser. Perhaps a change of venue might also be a good idea – say, to something out here in Columbia County, where the club is located.
Speaking of Azziz, these days he is a sympathetic figure only to a handful of pathetically sycophantic chamber-of-commerce types who would accept the name “Cow Poop” for the combined university if Augusta’s self-proclaimed arbiter of “cool” told them to.
But as frustration over a lack of movement on the name change has grown, I’ve seen the need to make a tiny plea for civility.
Please: Stop with all the personal attacks on Azziz and his appearance, and the smart-alecky misuse of his name (“Dizeeze,” for example). It’s not only unproductive, but it makes him look dignified in comparison.
Just as all the personal attacks on President Obama divert attention from serious issues, so do the childish comments aimed at Azziz only make his critics look petty and foolish.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.
firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)