William Carter, columnist

William Carter is a retired longtime Franklin city employee and published author. He may be contacted at wcarterfranklin@aol.com.

I put my underwear on backwards the other day after my shower and seriously considered leaving them that way. I groaned a little bit, then sighed, and then weighed the future discomfort factor against the pain-in-the-a** factor of having to bend over again to rectify the situation. A good many of you may be wondering why this was an issue at all; if so, you’re probably under the age of 50. A lot of us older folks, though, have reached a point in our lives where we have accepted our mortality, faced the facts our movements and heartbeats are, indeed, finite, and have to take the time to consider if wasting a few of those movements to do something like turn our underwear around is really and truly worth the expense of effort when I could later use those very same breaths and heartbeats for something much more constructive, like yelling at squirrels or muttering about why they don’t make the buttons on my cell phone bigger.   

In case you’re curious, I did turn my underwear around, thus sparing the squirrels at the bird feeders a much justified cursing from me later in the day. It wasn’t really the discomfort aspect that came into play, either, or the task of having to bend over again. It was just that, considering the state of technology today, and the fact I know so little about it, I couldn’t help but think there might be an app available that would allow a perfect stranger to know whether or not I had put my underwear on backwards by mistake, and I damn sure didn’t want some impudent, tech-savvy young person laughing behind my back as I stood in line waiting to buy a cell phone with bigger buttons.

Ironically, the older I get, the more I find myself spending a lot of my finite time wondering if certain things are worth the effort of doing anymore. If you’ve been reading this column for the almost 20 years I’ve been writing it, you know there was a period of time I was pretty vocal about my political views.  I got yelled at a lot by people I didn’t know, and received several hundred e-mails that made me want to wash my eyes out with soap after I read them. That’s all OK, though, because I freely put my opinion out there, knowing the consequences, and have never, ever been ashamed to attach my name to anything I’ve written. 

But then, a while back, I began to question whether or not I’d changed anyone’s mind with my rants, and realized I probably hadn’t.  And it dawned on me how arrogant it was of me to actually believe anyone gave a damn about my opinions in the first place. So I decided to give everyone a break from my left-wing leanings for the time being, and just write about backwards underwear for a while, or carnage at the grocery store on snow days.

Besides, what’s it to me, really, if there are people out there who still believe Donald Trump was chosen by God to save humanity, or that a bunch of Q-Anon morons choose to spend their time standing in the rain holding signs and waiting for JFK Jr. and Elvis to appear and lead them to the Promised Land? It’s not my brain they’re stuffing with dried cicada husks and spider webs, so have at it.  There’s nothing at all I can do, either, about the majority of voters in my chosen home state electing to embarrass the rest of us by sending to Washington someone so willing to sacrifice their principles for the sake of politics like the vapid Marsha Blackburn or wannabe “alpha male” Andy Ogles, so why even try anymore?

But now some of those folks whose views are different from mine, folks I’d chosen to ignore for the sake of my own serenity, have decided they know better than the rest of us what is appropriate or safe for us to allow our own children to read; have decided our young ones are too fragile to handle the fact humanity didn’t ride to the present astride unicorns along a path strewn with rose petals, or that among the billions of people upon this earth quite a few are different from them.   

It’s time to speak up again.

If you don’t know by now, there are a whole bunch of folks out there, nationwide and many in positions of power, who have hitched a ride on the book-banning wagon in an effort to abolish our right to read whatever the hell we want to read. For the most part, these self-appointed gatekeepers are targeting any books that broach the subjects of gender identity, abusive relationships, or anything less than a white picket fence existence. They are, of course, as they goose-step their way into public forums, using the “think of the children” argument as if it justifies their extremism or somehow brings sanity to their threats of jail time or violence, even, towards school teachers or librarians.  

Whatever happened to the concept of simply not reading something you don’t want to read, minding your own business, and leaving your neighbor and your neighbor’s kids free to choose how they want to go about their own lives? Hell, I’ve never read anything by James Patterson and don’t feel in any way I am less of a human being for it.  

The other blight on my post-retirement serenity are the outraged among us who have taken up the torch of trying to protect our emotional well-being by banning any books that may make someone “feel bad” about what our forefathers did to create what is arguably the most prosperous, entitled country on the face of the earth. Fine, if you feel that way then don’t let your kids read that stuff. But I promise you, hiding history does not change historical fact, nor does sugar-coating the atrocities committed in the name of nation building. If anyone, child or otherwise, of any color “feels bad” after finding out slavery was once legal in this country, guess what. Good. We should all be haunted by that stain on our past; we should all be scarred.

While I would truly like to believe all of these people really only care about protecting their fragile offspring, I can’t help but shake the suspicion, just from the condescending tone of their voices and the glint of self-righteous fire in their eyes, they simply think they are smarter than the rest of us and, of course, are our moral superiors. More appalling is how it seems, to me, at least, some of these folks are using their own children as rungs up the ladder in their reach for right-wing, social media success.

Oh, and they can cite the Bible in their arguments all they want to try and change my mind.  That won’t work on me, either. As a born and bred Southern Baptist, I, too, have been cherry-picking what I want to believe from that book for decades now.  

My favorite part is how Jesus sacrificed Himself for ALL of us and not just a chosen few.

That’s my rant, and I’m sticking to it.

And remember, you don’t have to read this unless you want to.



William Carter is a retired longtime Franklin city employee and published author. He may be contacted at wcarterfranklin@aol.com 

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