The temperature this morning sits at 41 degrees at 0645, well above freezing in the middle of winter here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia.
The Blacksburg/Roanoke office of the National Weather Service says it will hit 60 degrees by noon and rise to about 66 with sun and little rain on a national holiday called Presidents Day.
Daytime highs for the remainder of February are expected to stay in the 50s and 60s with lows staying well above freezing for all but one of the nights.
Once again, those of us who prefer daily transportation on two wheels can enjoy mostly good weather with showers possible on Wednesday and Thursday and probably Saturday of this week and then finishing out the month next week.
As the old saying goes, March will come in like a lamb. Will it go out as a lion?
But while Mother Nature seems to be in a good mood, too much of the world around us is in turmoil.
At a “celebration of the First Amendment” in Floyd’s Eco-Center, journalism professor Bill Kovarik pointed out that many threats to our way of life exist in America today and the most serious of those threats come from the man who finished second in voting last November in the 2016 Presidential election.
With the zeal of an evangelist, Kovarik reminded us that freedom of speech, freedom of the press and four others guarantees of the First Amendment are openly disregarded by current President Donald Trump and those who support him.
The President calls Kovarik and those of us who report the news “enemies of the people.” As someone who has spent most of his life as a newspaperman, I openly admit that I am an enemy of the State — The State of Trump and the state of our America under his Presidency.
We heard similar warnings Saturday afternoon in the din of Dogtown Roadhouse on Locust Street of downtown Floyd when former Congressman Tom Perriello, now running for Virginia governor, called Trump a racist and a serious threat to this country.
“I will stand for Virginians and for Americans and against the President who threatens our freedom and our way of life,” Perriello said.
Perriello became a champion who fought racism and bigotry by beating longtime racist and bigot Virgil Goode in the area’s Congressional race in 2008.
Goode shows up in Floyd from time to time. I last ran into him when he circulated petitions to try and run for President. I laughed at him when he tried to get me to sign his petitions and told him that as a newspaperman i don’t sign petitions for anyone, especially racists.
America, today, is under attack from within. Here in Floyd County, we see pickup trucks flying large Confederate flags and emblazoned with racist posters and Nazi symbols.
Social media web sites like Facebook are filled with angry posts about those who legally protest, those who seek a better life in America and those whose skin tone is less than alabaster.
An increasing number of Facebook “friends” post daily that they have had enough and say “goodbye.”
Some decry valid groups like Black Lives Matter and, in the same breath, claim they are not racist. Minister abandon their sworn oath of “love of God” and post tirades tinged with bigotry and intolerance.
Yet while we shake our heads at such outcries, we must remember that they too have the right to express their opinions as long as they don’t issue threats or promote violence.
In an America where freedom of speech is supposed to exist, we must allow those who use that freedom to express hate and intolerance.
But we should draw the line against those who use that hate to foster illegal acts against our fellow human beings.
During lunch with a friend at The Floyd Country Store last week, we talked about freedom of choice in the emotional debate over abortion.
A woman in the booth behind us interrupted.
“How dare you support the right to kill unborn babies,” she said. “You are a disgrace to God’s law.”
I tried to explain that under the laws of the United States of America, abortion is legal in certain circumstances and within certain timeframes.
“So you oppose life,” she said. “You support murder.”
“I support the right of a woman to choose and that is a right protected by law,” I replied.
“Then you will burn in hell,” she said. “God will punish you.”
I thanked her for her thoughts and returned to my lunch with a friend. The woman behind us got up and left, muttering loudly.
In that case, we both enjoyed our freedom of speech.