A long-time friend and life member of the National Rifle Association met me for breakfast this week and smiled.
“You raised a lot of ruckus with your column about the NRA and Colorado,” he said. “I know some folks who want to beat the crap out of you. When I explained to them what your were really doing, they calmed down, sort of.”
My friend is a die-hard conservative. We eat breakfast together at least three times a week, along with others at a table mixed with conservatives, liberals and independents.
We share a love of country and the belief that, from time to time, you need to stir things up and get people upset so they will stand up and speak out.
Most at the table understand that it is the role of a journalist to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
In today’s partisan, take no prisoners and never cooperate world, that role is too often missed or overlooked.
Wednesday’s column in Capitol Hill Blue brought many angry responses from NRA members and gun supporters. Many called me a liberal, some included the word “communist,” at least one said I was “a f—ing jew” and some claimed I was “anti-Redneck.”
That brought a laugh at the breakfast table that is composed primarily of Rednecks who, like me, grew up in a Blue Ridge Mountain community where the only town has a population of 434.
My “sports car” is a 13-year-old Jeep Wrangler with dual lockers and a well-used 8,000-pound Warn winch. My other transportation is a Harley-Davidson, currently under repair from an encounter last fall with a cow on a highway at the foot of a mountain.
Anti-Redneck? The fellow Rednecks who grew up with me would disagree.
But, as a journalist, it is not my job to serve as an advocate for any particular issue or cause. It is my job to stimulate public interest and debate.
Yes, I have written columns that appear to be anti-gun, just as I have penned others that are considered pro-gun. I have also published articles that are pro and con on the issue of gun control.
I have also written columns pro and con about President Barack Obama, pro and con about Republicans, Democrats and a number of other causes.
So what’s my political philosophy? I don’t have one. I’m not a Democrat or a Republican, a conservative or a liberal or anything that can be defined with a partisan label.
I’m a troublemaker. Always have been, always will be. Regular readers of Capitol Hill Blue know that. The drive-bys who come here because of a link published on Facebook or somewhere else often don’t know that unless they take the time to do a little research.
If a column draws a number of comments on both sides of an issue, then it has accomplished its purpose. If people stop and think about a topic, then I have accomplished my goal.
If not, I move on and try something else.
I’ve been doing this for half a century and I intend to keep doing it for a while longer.
You can read or not read, agree or disagree. Your choice. That’s what a free country is all about.