I’ve been called the devil a lot in my life. “Satan” is another term. So is “godless.”
Why? Because I ask questions that often make people nervous.
Asking such questions are what I do. Been doing so as a newsman for more than half a century.
Spiro Agnew unleashed a verbal barrage when I asked him a question he didn’t like in a press conference in St. Louis in 1972. Our exchange ended up on the CBS evening news that night.
Illinois Gov. Dan Walker had a few choice words to say at a press conference in Springfield in 1975. I called him for failing to deliver on promises to state residents. He didn’t like being questioned.
Congressman Guy Vander Jagt, head of the Republican National Committee when I took a sabbatical from newspapers and ran the political programs division of the National Association of Realtors, which included oversight of the group’s political action committee (PAC) debated me on public radio in 1988 and called PACs “whores.” Guess that made me a pimp.
“There’s something wrong with your analogy Congressman,” I replied. “Where I come from, whores are the ones asking for money for a service which they have not yet delivered. That sounds more like political officials and candidates for office. That makes you and your colleagues the whores because we’re the ones handing you the money. We’re the johns. We should remember that in situations like that, the very best we can expect is to get screwed.”
Vander Jaqt never spoke to me again. I went back to journalism. It’s better to be the devil and not a prostitute or john.
There was a time when people could discuss issues without rancor. Now even ministers post virulent political tirades on social media and too many posts use names like “Obummer” or “Hitlery” to discuss who elected to offices and have the temerity to seek higher ones.
When I noted last week that I was disposing of some old ARs (Assault Style Weapons) for meltdown instead of selling them, more than a few called me “a hater of the second amendment” or “a communist who wants to take away our guns.”
Had to laugh on that one. I own more weapons than most small-town police departments and possibly a few third-world countries. I decided to get rid of some old — and mostly worn out — assault style weapons because (1) I have no need such weapons for self-defense or hunting and (2) I did not want to see them fall into the wrong hands.
Destroying the weapons also helped make a point about the glut of such weapons that are now in the hands of people who probably should not be allowed to purchase a water pistol, much less a real gun with real ammo.
I dropped my life membership in the National Rifle Association because I feel the organization has gone off the deep end and is more of a mouthpiece for gun manufacturers and not a true representative of average gun owners.
I’m called a democrat a lot nowadays because of columns I have written about what I see if incredible shortcomings of the previous GOP Presidents like George W. Bush.
Others claim I’m liberal. I am liberal on some things, conservative on others and non-committal on others. I consider myself a political agnostic. Those who claim I’m partisan don’t do much research. If they had they might have found my columns that supported impeachment of Democratic President Bill Clinton or my frequent criticisms of President Barack Obama.
Snap judgements become the rule when someone clicks on a link on Google News or Yahoo pointing to one of my latest columns for a political news site. Those who read something of mine for the first time form judgements that do not even come close to reflecting my writings as a whole.
The same can be said of incredibly damning judgements about my latest writings about God and/or religion.
If I’m a “godless heathen” or an atheist, as too many have claimed, how does that happen when I have 22 years and 23 days of sobriety because of my acceptance of God’s words as part of my membership in Alcoholics Anonymous for more than two decades.
The 22-year AA chip that I carry in my pocket each and every day says:
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.
It’s called the prayer for recovering alcoholics and it is one that I recite every day — one day at a time.
Seems there are many out there who think they know me.
They rant and rave on social media about what they claim I am or are not, but those who scream the loudest have never asked me a single question online or via private message, email or a phone call.
They would rather condemn than learn.
I’m sorry that they feel I am the devil in their midst.
Are their feelings a failing on my part or theirs?
Not my call.
I’m opinionated, I’m inquisitive, I’m passionate.
I don’t hate, I try not to discriminate and I am not tolerant of those who do.
If that makes me the devil, then accept it, come on in and enjoy the light of the fire.
Walter McPeak, my maternal granddaddy was one of the co-founders, with my grandmother, Zella, of Slate Mountain Presbyterian Church. He grew up a racist, reflecting the environment he lived in.
Late in his life, Grandfather McPeak renounced racism and admitted he was wrong. His public change made more than a few of his racists in his life tell him to “go to hell.”
“Here’s to hell,” he would say. “May the stay there be as much fun as the way there.”
My grandfather approached life with humor.
“Don’t take life too seriously,” he would say, borrowing the quote from Elbert Hubbard. “You will never get out of it alive anyway.”