Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Six Little Issues



“We live in a culture of disrespect.” “How can we stop the bullies?” These were the messages I took away from my first encounter with Fredericktown, Missouri last January, so it was with absolutely no illusions that I decided to work there.

For the past three months I've been humping around Madison County, Missouri, which is filled with natural beauty and plenty of wonderful people, establishing a free alternative community newspaper, or more accurately, reviving one that had gone defunct...twice. It's been a lot of hard work, not particularly remunerative, and frankly, has soon grown tiresome, at least the part walking on eggshells trying not to piss off the local bullies, who are numerous, and who themselves live to be pissed off. Then they know that something has happened to them, and they feel alive. They do a pile on, quickly quashing whatever possibility of alterity or dissent that might be in the air or building on the ground, and that's a good day. They have many good days. 

Fredericktown, which is the county seat, is somewhat tragic; the people are largely there by default, and it's one of those “communities” that have been completely written off by the power brokers. Local U.S. Congresswoman JoAnn Emerson brought exactly zero dollars in earmarks back to Madison County in the last congress, yet they seem to adore her. She manipulates them with demagoguery 101 on the gun control issue and they buy it hook, line and sinker while she delivers nothing, zero. Cape Girardeau flourishes relatively speaking from her largesse, Farmington too, but not Madison County. There's no need to give Madison County anything; they wouldn't confront power if their lives depended on it (which they do), though there's every kind of privation. That is one of The Crier's crimes to be sure, bringing those privations to the attention of the readers, as well as her indifference to them.

People in Fredericktown are fond of talking about community pride, you hear it all the time, but seem to spend most of their waking hours canceling out each other's efforts, so little real progress is ever made. A predatory lender comes to town, they rent one of the prettiest buildings in the historic downtown and the local Chamber of Commerce hosts a ribbon-cutting. It's a death knell for the town, they know it, and they celebrate it because “at least the building's not empty any more.” One resale shop closes, a new junk store opens. Oh look the buildings are filling up! The few stores with quality merchandise beg for custom, while bling and kitsch rule. They commence the Fredericktown Revival Initiative, bore everyone to death with endless meetings, and take little action achieving a pittance of forward movement, completely disproportionate to the effort and time invested. They create a wonderful social space gallery called The Loft, and few people come, the walls where artworks used to hang are now empty, and so on.

We were hitting it out of the park with the paper, each issue finer than the previous one, but ad dollars were stagnant; we had the appearance of growth (new ads each issue) but no actual growth because just as many would “take a break.” Frustrating, and a lens that got my attention. Meanwhile, I was increasing circulation (warranted by the demand), translating articles into Spanish, planning extraordinary community events (now canceled because of the brouhaha). We lavished our intelligence and creativity on our readers, offered every kind of beauty and made many people smile. People got out their dictionaries, dusting them off, they told me so. That made me smile.

But the bullies, the miserable self-defeating bullies, were just biding their time. Could they ever really be open to the project of growth, which requires tolerance of and respect for diversity of opinion and modes of expression, or were they just waiting to pounce? I had begun to wonder. It very much felt like the latter. A mere toenail over the line, their line of military sacrosanctness, and we're finding out. Every other place I've ever lived parents organize to prevent military recruiters from preying on their youngsters. In Fredericktown they organize against the paper for suggesting that they should. In other places, parents simply don't allow the military to reach into their schools to indoctrinate their children. In Fredericktown they applied for it! and the JROTC program is considered to be just another club for the kids to choose from in the high school. Question its value in the newspaper and the very idea is met with outrage, advertisers are called by the high school drill sergeant, I'm told, threatened with boycotts. “High school drill sergeant” what a chilling collection of words to my ears. In Fredericktown it's completely accepted as normal, and no alternative perspective is allowed, period, the end.

The other grave offense. A young marine graduates from boot camp, to even suggest a wish for a safer way forward is viewed universally as “disrespect.” Much is made of the fact that I didn't ask permission of those who submitted the announcement to alter it with a message of peace and love. I wasn't a good girl, I didn't ask mommy and daddy. The bullies didn't much like that, hierarchy and power relations (masked as manners) must not be upset. No new currents of thought can be introduced, it's not polite! Very big word around there, disrespect; they're always on the lookout for it, and always manage to find it when confronting a situation that might otherwise require thought, or action, most especially change. Hiding behind the outrage of offense to avoid confronting the possibility that other less violence-filled futures are possible, and even desirable. Good work, Fredericktown! (with an all-too-predictable assist from Bonne Terre, another foresaken hamlet that is answering its own question of to be or not to be? with a shrug and a Jagermeister).

Friends in Farmington had warned me that it was useless to try anything even remotely progressive in Fredericktown, that they were 100% committed to their downhill trajectory. “Fredericktown is Fredericktown,” people here say. “It'll never change. It's why they don't prosper.” Even before the first issue was ever printed a friend down thataway told me that revitalizing the paper “would be like putting jet fuel in a lawnmower.” I heard them but I like the tough cases, I learn the most from them. And to tell you the truth I still have some hope for Fredericktown, though I have to say it's not looking very good for The Crier's continuation at this moment, to say the least. On our own Facebook page I've been called a cunt, even worse, a “bloomberg cunt” (a reference to the mayor of New York City for those who are wondering). That one especially made me laugh. Even so, I am happy to continue the paper if it would be possible to do so, to continue to bring intelligence and reason, variety and diversity to the readers. But I am not willing for my efforts and the efforts of the amazing writers assembled under The Crier's masthead to merely decorate a town unwilling to truly support the paper, which would mean occasionally holding up their long and sacredly held beliefs to the light of day to see if they're in still intact.

Everyone knows what really happened, even if they prefer not to admit it. I challenged them on something vitally important (their children's lives and futures) and when they tried to blow me away with their collective outrage rather than consider the substance of the challenge, I didn't flinch. Not backing down, they wanted me to apologize for wishing for peace on this young man and all the other young men and women who might chance upon the announcement. Along with their town's dignity, they can count the paper, if it goes that way, as yet another of their losses. Whether they value it or not, it's theirs.

To the serious and dedicated people down there working tirelessly for years, decades, to improve things, and there are many of them, I may have stumbled upon the answer to their question: How to revive Fredericktown? Piss them off! Their indignation seems to be the only thing that really gets them going; (they're hurting so much) it's the only thing they can believe in.












23 comments:

  1. Frances, you clearly have little to NO idea of the dynamic with which you are dealing - though you'd like to pretend with some very pretentious writing that you do. Let me be very clear - I grew up in Fredericktown, am a Libertarian, and have definitely pissed off my fair share of people BUT there is one thing you don't do to citizens of Fredericktown and that is PISS THEM OFF! At this point - you have dug a hole big enough to drive a bus into and I would imagine that there is little hope of absolution for you. However one thing that does go a long way is to JUST APOLOGIZE - not for the point of your message but for the way in which is was delivered. Many (including myself) were able to see the foundation of your intent, but were completely turned off by what we perceived to be an article that completely diminished what a young man was contributing to his country. As a writer I am sure you are aware that the intent of the writer is for nothing if the perception of the reader does not match. As for your all to pompous (albeit studious) dissertation on why Fredericktown is stuck in a rut I can sum that up. This wonderful community has chosen to exist in the manner in which it does. They have not pled for your help to set them free. They have not looked in the mirror to find an utter disgust in the reflection. They are perfectly content and you decided to take a swing at the bee hive. If this town has been so ass backward and without hope I would love to know how it is possible for the community in which I was raise to produce so many highly accomplished individuals with highly progressive and free thought independent of the prescribed mentality you so readily attempt to apply to the mass of Fredericktown residents. Based on your summation of this community - it is a wonder we haven't all eaten each other at this point, but on the contrary the community and school has produced a myriad of people that are simply amazing. Some of which have moved to other cities and towns and others of which still reside in Fredericktown contributing to the community that gave them so much while growing up. Could I ever live in Fredericktown again - probably not, but I have the utmost respect for the nurturing community that it provided to me while growing up. And while we are on the topic of community - I would be quite careful in how you nonchalantly use Farmington as your pseudo support system. Plenty of powerful business men and women and government officials now call Farmington home, but were raised or started their businesses in Fredericktown and people in that part of the world aren't quick to forget their roots.

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    1. Why Luke, why? Why couldn't you ever live in Fredericktown again? Tell them please, then maybe we'll get somewhere.

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    2. First of all it is Lucas - I apologize for the confusion of the screen name. And as a response: My inability to live in Fredericktown is in direct relation to the size and scope the local economy and the type of work that I do. There simply is not the economy to support my work - nor would Farmington, Cape Girardeau, or any other city or town in Southeast Missouri. Big cities are big for a reason and small towns are small for a reason. To suggest that they are not prospering is not accurate - they may not be growing or evolving in the way some might hope, but beneath the surface this town is creating life, cultivating young people, and preparing people for whatever life they choose. My grandpa started a business in Fredericktown back in the 70s, my Dad lived in Fredericktown for most of his live and managed a funeral home, my aunt owns a local business, and none of us are in the family business or own a farm. All of my cousins and my siblings have had the full support of our family and a community to choose whatever life we wanted (whether it was in our out of Fredericktown). Some of us have moved to other areas, some have chosen to start a family where we were raised - there is nothing out of the ordinary about these two cycles. As for the economy of Fredericktown - such is the life of small town USA - I have a close family friend that is a local business owner and I have heard directly how times get tough (even when you least expect it)- the buying power in small towns isn't large so there is little to no room for error. Have the best decisions always been made - no, but when times get tough it is our community that makes us strong and by and large the community isn't to ignorant to realize when a mistake has been made - they band together and try to correct or make the best of the existing situation.

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  3. OK I tried posting earlier but do not see anything, so here we go again:
    Please enlighten me on how this town isn't prospering? Over the course of the past 15 years so much has been added to our community, large corp. companies being added, brand new school built (albeit it was from a horrible incident), new parks and equipment,redoing our streets and highways for easier access to the town and for safety reasons. Businesses go up and come down every day, every where, whether it is in a small town or New York City. So that argument has no leg to stand on. Sorry, our shops aren't good enough for you, and are just junk. The only building that has been in and out of businesses the most, is just that, ONE building. The others are growing immensely (The Mustard Seed is an adorable boutique and Cowboy Cafe' has amazing food and coffee. Both business owned by Mom and Pop citizens)and are not showing any signs of closing their doors.
    As for the military aspect of the article and this follow up blog, I am confused as to how you think your quips and comments added to a Marines graduation announcement were acceptable? I understand that as a journalist that you want to make sure that all sides are seen within a story...except that wasn't a story that was a statement of a young man, and his accomplishments. Which none of which include or will ever include massage and telling camp fire stories.
    Madison County, St. Francois County, Cape County and so on are all majority farming communities. Our growing and prospering is making sure food is on your table, milk is in your fridge, and shelves are stocked at the local grocery store...etc. But we are also more than that, we teachers, students, leaders, followers, business owners, etc. And all of which may or may not considered as a prospering community in your eyes but yet we are still growing and will continue to at our own pace.
    And as a reply to Lucas' statement above, which I concur with everything that was said, is he lived in Fredericktown his whole life and it will always be his home but he has chosen to broaden his horizon. That is not in a direct reflection of how the town is or the people for that matter.But to see different places and have different job offers and careers that you just can't find in a small town. You left NY and now live in Farmington, did you leave NY for a quiet small town life or did you leave it for work reasons? Whichever the reason may be for anyone no longer staying in their home town is a personal reason, not bc a bunch of rednecks came out of the corn fields with pitch forks screaming GET OUT GET OUT, we don't like change or new ideas. We do like change and different views/ideas, but we will voice our opinions when we see fit. If we love something, we share how much we love it, and vice versa. That doesn't mean Fredericktown is a backwards town stuck in the past.
    That is simply just not the case, we are growing, just not into a huge prospering city as you might seem fit.

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    1. Interesting Beth - we had almost the exact same angle - must have been brain washed :P Great post by the way.

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  4. Lucas, I don't know if you read the interview I did with Alderman Wulfert in 3.2. He noted that Fredericktown is in something of a chicken and egg conundrum. The magic population number to attract new businesses is around 5,000, which Fredericktown is below by a thousand or so. And without the businesses, the young people, especially the ones with talent and motivation who head for the hills at the first possible moment as Kyle Wright our Chamber director said in my interview with him, can't stay, there's so little opportunity. So that's a tough nut to overcome.

    Wouldn't one of the ways to overcome it be to project a genuine welcoming of new people, with all that entails? tolerance of diversity, etc.?

    That's the contribution I was hoping to make with The Crier, and still am, if we can somehow transcend this conflict. To show newcomers, or potential newcomers, that they needn't fear places like Fredericktown. That they can come here, enjoy the natural beauty, draw energy down from the night sky (no stars in NYC) and be accepted, even if their traditions and worldviews contrast with the town lifers?

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    1. I work in the arts community, so I know how harsh it can be entering a new group, community, or workplace. I think we can all agree that it would be great if we just all felt welcome all the time, but we don't live in a utopia - our animal nature is to huddle together and protect ourselves from that which we consider the possibility of a threat.

      I think Kyle stands to be corrected - honestly there are plenty of people that do leave the town for other pursuits, but also plenty that stay for a variety of reasons. I don't have any statistical data to support what the overall trend is.

      As for the population - yes the city of Fredericktown has a population of just under 4K but the 63645 zipcode has an approximate population of 11K, even a smaller portion of that zipcode area (the St. Michael township) has in excess of 7K people (according to the 2010 census).

      I see the vision, but it is your actions, and the subsequent responses, that build barriers not bridges. You are simply reaffirming a stereotype that many people in small towns have about "city folk" when a simple statement that your intentions were perhaps a bit miscommunication could have been made - it goes a long way toward building goodwill and in this alternative universe which some of us are working toward - goodwill seems like it might be the key ingredient.

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    2. Also - no I have not read the previous publications - my responses have been purely based on the resulting comments regarding the initial article in question involving Caleb Killian.

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  5. To be honest, I have not lived in Fredericktown for about 7 years now. I moved away at the first opportunity, and while I still have lots of friends and family in Fredericktown, I have no desire to return.

    Let me begin by saying that I both agree and disagree with you. I totally agree with your view of the bullies in Fredericktown. The bullies in Fredericktown are out of control, and they come from all age groups.

    I do not know what you, Beth and Lucas are discussing regarding the military announcement that you tampered with. Could you please elaborate as to your position at the Crier, and what you did to the military announcement?

    I do agree that in Fredericktown, the military is a way of life for many from very young age. But Frances, please keep in mind that Fredericktown is not the only small town with JROTC through middle school and high school. If I understand correctly, almost every high school in Missouri has some type of ROTC program. I do agree that in many cases Fredericktownian children are pointed in the military direction, but as your article states, the economy of Fredericktown (again, please note that my information is now about 7 years old)and the population of Fredericktown, are not exactly prospering. Those who can afford for their children to go to a college/university do point their children in that direction. Myself included. In many cases however, children in Fredericktown see the military as their only way out. Which is also the case in almost every small, rural town in America. So please do not judge Fredericktown alone for this aspect of their community.

    I cannot speak for Fredericktown recently, but as I recall, yes, Fredericktown had a few new businesses around town as I was leaving. I do not remember thinking of Fredericktown as a prospering town - but then again, I was 18, headed out, and hated living there. I have seen so many new things from my Fredericktown friends postings on FB that I have not yet seen - Vance Vineyard - as Beth was stating above - Mustard Seed and Cowboy Cafe, and plenty of other places.

    Here's my question: Why are you so interested in making the people of Fredericktown conform to your standards of prosperity? In Fredericktown, I do not believe that prosperity is measured in terms of money. One of the few things I did like about Fredericktown is that if the people of Fredericktown were happy, they didn't need much more. They didn't need a Wal Mart until just a few years ago. They didn't even need stop lights until after I left.

    Anyway, if you could please elaborate as to your role on the Crier, why you were in Fredericktown in the first place, and why you are so unhappy that the people of Fredericktown do not share your views, I would very much appreciate it. I always try to see the other point of view before judging - walk a mile in their shoes, right?

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    1. Christina, welcome! Happily. My position at the Crier is that I am publisher, editor, writer, sometimes ad saleswoman and distributor. I was very moved by Brittany Ballew's comment in my interview with her about not wanting to kill people, or nothing, which is how she put it. That got me thinking about why ROTC is in the school system, and yes it's in many others. I mentioned to a group of Fredericktonians at a dinner party (which btw would be a great community event-7 courses and 7 topics of discussion) that I was thinking of challenging the status quo on that in my meeting with Dr. Burlison. No one there dissuaded me, or even tried to dissuade me from taking that approach.

      In addition, I became aware that one of the children involved in burning the middle school was contemplating enlisting because he felt there was no other future for him. At the same time we were involved in planning a marvelous stargazing event, and when I received the picture of the marine with all the stars in the flag, it seemed like it had dropped from the heavens and I thought there was a wonderful opportunity to expand the universe.

      I risked everything, all of the goodwill that had been accruing, to find out where The Crier stood with Fredericktown. Was it just being tolerated as decorous so that the same ole same ole could continue, in which case it was not worth or time to continue. Or was Fredericktown really and truly ready for diversity of opinion and modes of expression, in which case I would continue to give it my all? Personally, I think it is. Even after the emotionalism, I still think it is.

      I am not a rich woman. When my husband and I shared the proceeds from selling our one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan I had enough to deal myself a new hand in a place like this, filled with beauty and every kind of potential. I am a believer in Maslow's hierarchy of human needs. I think we have a responsibility, a societal one, to help people achieve the first two rungs, somehow. We have to create opportunity for young people so that the "choice to serve" is a meaningful choice and not just a russian roulette gambit with an employer of last resort. I agree that Walmart and Walmartization are no answer and that tricked out consumerism is no road to human happiness.

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  6. As open-minded as you think you are, you must understand that change is a difficult and often misunderstood thing. The problem is that you are going about this in the wrong fashion. Instead of trying to shove New York ideas down our small town's throats with your flowers-and-butterflies-why-can't-things-be-perfect attitude, why don't you consider your audience? You are trying to serve lobster thermidor to a crowd who loves (and wants) sirloin and potatoes. Why not try serving the sirloin with some garlic butter? Later, add some shrimp or tilapia. Work your way up to the lobster thermidor instead of choking people to death with your citrus ideology.

    It is 12:26 p.m. And yes, I am hungry.

    The point I am trying to make is that many of us are open to change, but the change must be attempted in a respectful, courteous manner that allows us to adapt it at our own pace for our own reasons if and only IF we choose to. Many of us our happy with sirloin and potatoes...

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    1. Ash, we seem to be on the same page so often!

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    2. And I'm a vegetarian (please insert smiley face emoticon). Incremental change, I agree, is the way that change actually happens. But first, you have to capture people's attention and imagination to get them thinking about an alternative vision. I offered up a stargazing evening at Vance Vineyard, for the whole community, not just the elite, so that any child or adult for that matter could look at other galaxies with telescopic vision.

      I reject, and have shown that by voting with my feet so to speak, many New York ideas. I grew up in Missouri. It's to Missouri that I returned.

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  7. Beth, Thank you SO MUCH for posting here. I love it that you're here giving me an opportunity to make the case you requested. The new mayor was so generous with her time and showed me a number of improvements that need to be made. Money seems to be an issue in making basic repairs, fundamental to the infrastructure. For the county as well; their budgets are precarious.

    The bankers at First State Community Bank wrote how the Fed is bearing down on them, choking off capital to rural America. Try living in capitalism without it. But that's what's coming.

    Predatory lenders are preying on the people with interest rates in the hundreds of percents. If people weren't vulnerable to their predation--poor--they wouldn't be signing 10-year leases, I'm told, in the historic downtown.

    The food pantry, the Madison County one, is sometimes low on food. I wrote about that too. Dr. Burlison shocked us with an astounding statistic--60% of all students qualify for food assistance.

    All of these practical on the ground realities are directly related to the bloated position that the military takes up in how our resources are dedicated. The federal government is working both sides of the street one could say. Creating austerity conditions to foreclose options for young people and the military gets its "volunteers."

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    1. Yes but these money and interest problems are a federal level not just a state and local level. I understand that we still need help in several areas and that some new notions will fail due to no ones fault but timing and location of the business. There is still work to be done I do completely agree with you there, but everything takes time.

      I think Christina explained it perfectly that the military is the only "option" for some citizens for themselves to be able to grow, bc of the lack of means that they and/or the family has. But that doesn't mean necessarily that it was shoved in their face since birth from home and our schools. I never once felt any pressure to join any club or after school activity as you stated above. But that is just my personal experience. I have friends who were in the JROTC and said they learned so much from the course. Not just about military, but respect for your fellow brother and sister, selflessness, respect for elders, helping others in need...etc. My personal opinion is the ROTC program was the only program that did focus on those attributes more than anything else with the school programs. And I don't see anything horrible about that, do you?

      As for the government playing both sides of the fence, I think just about everyone knows this already. Our government is no where near perfect, but I digress that is an entirely different subject.

      I can see the foundation you are wanting to lay for The Crier, bringing to light issues that we might have over looked or perhaps not know it all. But the articles and the way the were written, were...for a lack of better words...jumping the gun. If you were a new NY Times journalist and have only written a few published articles for the magazine, you wouldn't jump straight to how NY needs to change in this manner, or NY needs to open it's eyes to different ideas and theology. But instead would take baby steps to help open up a community to a new vision that you might see. And I also wouldn't start with how our schools ROTC program is a horrible idea for our youngsters and then follow up with your opinion of the Marine Corp. That wouldn't fly in just about any town that I know of.
      We are not chastising you bc you have different views than us, we are chastising you bc of the manor ism of which all of this was brought up. I hadn't even heard of The Crier until the military posting and I know several others who are the same. And now have no desire to pick up an issue, as a writer wouldn't you not want that to EVER happen?

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    2. Desire is a funny thing, it can change. This very dialog could potentially change it.

      I am an impatient woman, it's true. I do think time is of the essence and that to battle the retardation that the corporate media, and I include the Lee Corporation in that, has induced, a certain amount of provocation was warranted. It's a gamble, but I thought, and still think, that the risk is worth it and that we can all--ALL-- emerge from this knowing each other better, understanding our common goals (the betterment of Fredericktown, not just the same few families who always profit from the status quo), and hold our heads high.

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  8. I spent my youth in Madison County. My family still owns land there. I intend to retire there in a few years. My values are the same as most who reside in Madison County. Your values are anathema to the values of middle America. You have the right to express them, and to publish them. We have the right to reject them and to request businesses not continue funding values we reject by advertising in your paper. That's the way America works. You may think that is a form of bullying, but it's not. An attempt, on your part, to silence critics of your east coast, uber-liberal, anti-military viewpoint, is just as "bullying" and equally inaccurate. Neither is bullying. It's called free speech. You can say whatever stupid, left wing, loony thing you wish, and those with the values of America's heartland can call you on it.

    If you honestly think you will find support for a viewpoint which denigrates military service, or which sates "matter-of-factly" that America's only justification to go to war is for oil, you must have just fallen off the turnip truck. Guess what... You ain't in Kansas anymore. This is not New York City. Fredericktown is a far cry from Manhattan. People here eat meat, believe in the United States, support our men and women in uniform, and think this is a pretty damn nice place to live. There is a real value in small town America. We don't need people from New York looking down their noses and "talking down" to us.

    Quote: "Or was Fredericktown really and truly ready for diversity of opinion and modes of expression..." End quote.

    In other words, was this little, podunk town, ready to be enlightened by the intellectually superior viewpoint I shall bestow on them? I will give you my answer to the question. I'm not. I'll not become a vegetarian (I like a big, thick ribeye). I think you are an idiot if you think wind power will eliminate the need for fossil fuels. I support the military. I don't think politicians need to dictate how much Mr. Pibb I can pour into how big a cup. I think a person must be a complete moron if they believe they can come into a community, lecture the locals on a "better vision of the world" like the locals are children, and then get upset that the locals did not bend over backwards to welcome them into the fold. They would have to be a moron to think the community should change their values, but should expect no accommodation on your part to the values of the community. But, you think you are intellectually superior to the little Fredericktownian peons, so your attitude, and air of superiority is not surprising.

    Lottsa luck with your little newspaper. You're gonna need it unless you learn to respect the values of the community which you have chosen to become a part.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Alan. What I'm finding is that there are many people who are very thankful to be having this discussion about values because there are differences that they don't often get to express. The exercise here is to make more room for everyone's. That may not be welcome by you, but I think it's useful.

      After the outrage subsides, and I'm not rushing it, it'll take what it takes, the subsequent moment will be the interesting one.

      Thank you for your wishes of good luck. And to you too as you make your transition into retirement in Fredericktown.

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  9. Was she drunk when typing the article and this response? Surely she can't be THAT daft!

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    1. Thank you for using the word daft, OhmerFam. It got me curious about its origin and so I consulted an online etymology dictionary. The results are:

      daft (adj.)O.E. gedæfte "gentle, becoming," from P.Gmc. *gadaftjaz (cf. O.E. daeftan "to put in order, arrange," gedafen "suitable;" Goth. gadaban "to be fit"), from PIE *dhabh- "to fit together." Sense progression from "mild" (c.1200) to "dull" (c.1300) to "foolish" (mid-15c.) to "crazy" (1530s) probably was influenced by analogy with daffe "halfwit."

      It tells an interesting story about the progression of thought over time, don't you agree? My sense is that thought is evolving on The Madison County Crier, it's potential to be a stimulant for growth and expansion.

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