A radio talk host just said, “There are forces of evil trying to take over this country, and they all have a ‘D’ after their names.”

A sitting County Commissioner said that the recently defeated Amendment 4 might have fared better if Realtors and Chambers of Commerce weren’t spreading “misinformation.”

An unsuccessful candidate for County Commission called people “Nazis” for expressing an opinion contrary to the opinion he had just expressed at the same forum.

A fast food chain owner threatened to cancel all his advertising unless a program that expressed alternate views was yanked from the broadcast schedule.

If you believe that any of the above is acceptable or okay, perhaps you should quit reading until next week. The attitudes and behaviors mentioned above are simply un-American, and everyone responsible for them needs a severe reality check.

Not that I’m holding my breath.

A few weeks back, I wrote a column on the death of civil discourse. In the aftermath of Election 2010, it seems that nobody learned anything. Things are getting worse, and there seems to be no end to the downward spiral we’re in. This toxic culture that surrounds us and threatens to tear us apart is being fed by a media and a political system that thrives on division and isolation. It doesn’t matter how much we all really have in common (a lot); some people stand to gain significant amounts by exaggerating and exploiting our differences. So I’m going to call out the name-callers and the dividers for the anti-American and unpatriotic lowlife they are.

The sitting County Commissioner (who was quoted in a local newspaper) ought to be ashamed. This elected official just called a significant portion of the Monroe County constituency liars. It mattered not that reasonable people – people who also don’t want rampant over-development – had reason to doubt the effectiveness and be afraid of the consequences of a badly written amendment. This Commissioner still felt the need to call people with an opposing point of view, and the willingness to take a stand on something they believed in, liars. Bad Commissioner. Bad, bad Commissioner.

People like those mentioned in the last two examples have their hindquarters so far down on their shoulders that they are blinded to concepts like civility and reality. Posterior cranial extraction is the name of the procedure necessary to bring enlightenment to folks such as these. Maybe if someone inserted a copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and some reading light…

And people like the radio host in example one, people who only look at the party name and not the candidate, are either idiots or extremist radicals. I’m well aware that there are still places in this country where one can go and hear stuff like, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat,” and, “I’ll vote for a yellow dog before I’ll vote for a Republican.” Take a look at our nation and tell me how much better we all are because the warring factions in Washington can’t get together and get things done. Washington (the first President, not the city) was right – political parties will indeed be the death of our republic.

Until we realize we have so much more in common as Americans than we do issue that divide us, we’re just in for more of the same. Until we learn to disagree agreeably, then what our Founders tried to establish will certainly founder on the rocks of our discontent.

* * * * *

It is with sadness that I write about the passing of an old friend. Many Middle Keys residents remember a local musician by the name of Billy Harper. He and his brother Scott entertained many audiences here in the islands, but both left the Keys many years ago. Billy lost his battle with cancer on November 9. Born in Gary, Indiana on August 22, 1953, Billy came to the Keys from Kentucky in the mid-1980s, and performed frequently here until moving to the West Palm Beach area. He is survived by his sister Margie Burnette, and brothers Lee and Scott Harper. There will not be a public service. Memorial donations should be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Godspeed, Billy Harper (Billy Harper).


  1. RIP Billy.. you were a good friend and a not so good boyfriend, but you had a heart of gold. You sang like an angel and always entertained. I am sure many people will never forget you..

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