Boy, one minute we're paddling our cars through late-March downpours and battling winds as the month goes out like a lion with a bad attitude, and the next minute we're smack-dab in the middle of Confederate Heritage Month and you don't have a thing to wear.
What, you didn't know? You didn't realize Columbia County commissioners this past week approved without discussion a resolution to name April Confederate Heritage Month?
Behold the power of hype, and the lack thereof.
This time last year, a few county residents were outraged that commissioners would dare approve a resolution setting aside the fourth month of the year as a time to remember an era that consumed four years of our state's history.
Those residents were angry, in large part, because of hyperventilating television coverage that made Columbia County's designation of Confederate Heritage Month sound like some radical new idea to reinstate Jim Crow laws and hoist the Confederate battle flag over the courthouse.
Instead, the designation was nothing more than a routine annual nod to the month in which Confederate Memorial Day -- the original Memorial Day, predating the national holiday -- is celebrated.
And as is obvious, once the dust cleared the designation had changed exactly nothing for the few people egged on by the TV coverage. Everything was just the same as it was before the vote, except that a club that focuses on the Civil War era had a framed certificate to admire.
This year, minus the hoopla, the Confederate Heritage Month designation passed as a "consent agenda" item before the Columbia County Commission, meaning it was approved by unanimous vote as a group with dozens of other routine items. Not one person's life is changed as a result.
It would be nice if we could all be a little more tolerant of such things. The Confederate Heritage Month designation harms no one, and makes a few people happy. Big deal.
It would help, too, if we could be a little less quick to pull the trigger of outrage, or at least accurately aim first before firing.
Nod to Temple
My calendar tells me Merle Temple, of Evans, is scheduled to be sentenced tomorrow for his part in what federal prosecutors say was a scheme by former Georgia state School Superintendent Linda Schrenko (also a Columbia County resident) to funnel federal education dollars into her failed campaign for governor.
Whatever happens with Temple, I shouldn't neglect to mention his role in putting me where I am today.
Back in 1996, when I was working as an editorial writer for The Augusta Chronicle, Temple dropped by my office. He told me a local businessman had bought The News-Times and was looking for someone to operate it.
Temple asked if I knew anyone who might be interested in the job. I said I might be, and a few conversations later I was hired by Tim Shelnut to run The News-Times.
Shelnut later sold the paper to Southeastern Newspapers, parent of The Chronicle, thus bringing me back into the fold. Temple later took early retirement from BellSouth, and went off to Atlanta to work for Schrenko in the state education department.
Needless to say, things have gone better for me since then than for Temple. Tomorrow we'll find out just how bad they've gone for him, and in a few weeks we'll see what cards will be dealt for Schrenko.
I'm still here, happy as can be. I worked for everything I have, but I at least owe a nod to Merle for being a messenger at the right time. Whatever caused him to fall off the straight and narrow will come out in the courtroom, and he'll have to answer for it; but at least I can vouch for one good deed in his past.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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