Happy New Year y’all.
Or ya’ll if that is the way you spell it.
I go with “y’all” but a minister friend insists it should be “ya’ll,” and who am I to disagree?
On spelling, as on many other things, I am like the young minister who was being interviewed by the deacons at a church he hoped would employ him.
The deacons were a dour bunch – gloomy, serious, almost sullen. They seemed to challenge him with their questions, looking for theological shortcomings like a surgeon probing for a lump.
The young man thought he was doing okay until the most dour, gloomy, sullen deacon in the bunch asked, “do you believe in the nine gifts of the holy spirit?”
The candidate was caught. He could not remember what the nine gifts were, much less how church orthodoxy interpreted them. Realizing he had a 50-50 chance to be right or wrong he decided to go with the positive.
“Yes, I do,” he replied.
The deacons frowned. One shook his head.
Recovering quickly, the young man added, “But I can preach it either way.”
I am like that about a lot of things – especially spelling.
As Winnie-the-Pooh reportedly said, “I get the letters right, it is the order that bothers me.”
Or as my buddy Tolliver observed, “it’s a might poor man that can’t spell a word two ways.”
But I digress.
Today, as 2020 begins, my thoughts turn naturally to what has been going on in years past – historians have a habit of doing things like that.
In particular, I recalled events that occurred in 2013.
That was the year when family patriarch Phil got suspended from “Duck Dynasty” for saying what the executives at A&E should have known he would say if they watched the show, which apparently they don’t.
What followed was a fire-storm of charges and counter charges – conservatives claimed that liberals were all in favor of denying Phil’s right to speak freely, liberals claimed that conservatives were all in favor of denying folks who likely have never watched “Duck Dynasty” the rights enjoyed by regular watchers.
Following this debate to its logical, or maybe illogical, conclusion, I could not help but wonder what would happen if this sort of thing becomes the norm?
Censorship is a slippery slope, and once you start sliding down it, it is hard to stop.
On the other hand, you gotta have standards.
I can preach it either way.
While pondering this, I flashed back to another event that same year, 2013, when Mobile Mardi Gras organizers uninvited a local group that had been invited to participate in their annual “Moon Pie over Mobile” parade.
Why? Because organizers discovered that an organization that called itself the “Prancing Elites” intended to “prance.”
Pause for a moment and consider.
Mardi Gras. A celebration where young women expose their charm in return for beads thrown by masked men riding on floats.
When you set the bar that low, you wouldn’t think “prancing” would even raise an eyebrow.
But it did.
Apparently, the invitation committee did not pay close attention to who they were inviting. They were local folks. What could go wrong?
Then someone pointed out that the “prancing” would be done by an “all male, gender bending, dance team” that pranced in hot-pants, bare midriffs and skimpy tops.
Shocked, the parade organizers took back the invitation they had earlier extended. The Elites, according to the group’s captain, were just “crushed.”
Now folks, let me say this about all that.
Just as A&E shoulda known what Phil would say if asked, the Moon Pie over Mobile organizers shoulda checked to find out who were these Elites that were gonna be prancing in their parade.
But fear not. Once again, the power of public opinion came to the rescue.
Phil returned to the show, and Duck Dynasty” products were more popular than ever.
Meanwhile, the Prancing Elites were “shaking it all over YouTube” as the social media took up their cause. Pledges of more than $15,000 came in to help the Elites secure a “safe practice space” along with “new costumes and shoes.” Parade organizers in Milwaukee, Chicago and even Boston contacted the group, and the Big Easy Roller Girls over in New Orleans invited them to appear at halftime at one of their matches And to top it off, the Pink Box Burlesque of Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide) asked the Elites to join them on stage next season.
All’s well that ends well. The only thing that would make it better would be if Duck Dynasty invited the Elites to prance in camo.
But that might be asking too much.
Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy New Year y’all.