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There’s more to life than politics — amen to that

There’s more to life than politics — amen to that

I was blasting classic Rolling Stones in my truck yesterday at a few minutes before 5 p.m. when the phone rang. I did not recognize the number so debated whether to answer what was likely a junk call from someone asking me about my car warranty or — one I’ve been getting of late — someone trying to sell me a vacation package with a particular hotel chain. The caller ID said it was coming from Greensboro.

With a spur-of-the-moment decision I hit the accept button and said hello. 

“Is this The Smoky Mountain News?” came a voice. The caller had a distinct Southern accent that reminded me of family, so I immediately warmed to the voice. Sounded like a middle-aged male. 

“Well, this is Scott McLeod. I’m the newspaper’s editor and publisher. Can I help you?”

“OK, this is the number I found for the paper,” he said. 

“Sure, that’s right, what can I do for you?” I asked again. 

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Then it came, politely delivered, matter of fact, no anger or derision in the voice. I’ll put this in quotes even though I did not pull over and immediately write it down. I’m paraphrasing, but this is what he told me. 

“Well, I’m calling papers around the state during the holidays. I’m a veteran, and I just don’t think it’s right that they’re putting the faces of those arrested and convicted for the Jan. 6 thing at the Capitol all over the newspapers and they are having to serve time and yet when BLM and Antifa were rioting and looting all around the country they didn’t get arrested, and it didn’t make the papers and they did lots more harm. I think it’s biased.”

“Well, OK.”

“That’s it, I just think y’all need to be fair and want you to think about it over the holidays. Thanks for listening,” he said. 

And then he ended the call. 

And so I drove on toward my house, trying to decipher what I’d just heard. The comparison of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol to the protests that rocked this country in the summer of 2020 has been made before. It usually comes from those who think the fallout from the Jan. 6 insurrection has been too harsh and the reaction to the summer of rioting too lax, like what my caller had said. 

I did some research, and this excerpt from a New York Times article puts that in perspective: 

About 15 million to 26 million people participated in Black Lives Matter protests across the United States in the summer of 2020, and the vast majority of them were peaceful. More than 17,000 people were arrested in connection to the racial justice protests, according to a tally by The Washington Post. Out of some 2,600 arrests with details about the charge or protester, 582, or about 22 percent, were charged with crimes related to violence or the threat of violence. In other words, 1 in about 4,400 committed a violent crime, assuming the same crime rate across the entire arrestee population. 

In comparison, crowd experts and officials have estimated that up to 10,000 people entered the Capitol grounds. Out of the more than 729 arrested so far, 176, or about a quarter, have been charged with crimes related to violence. In other words, at least 1 in 56 committed a violent crime.

So there’s that regarding the comparison. Look, when the BLM protests turned to riots, they were condemned by most Americans. It’s one thing to use your First Amendment right to protest, another to loot and destroy private property. That’s unacceptable, as was the destruction and violence during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

But I kept coming back to the fact that this guy called me, and, according to what he said, is calling newspapers elsewhere. How fantastic is that. And so I called him back this morning. It went to voice mail, I told him I appreciated him calling, and my phone rang a few minutes later. 

“I missed your call,” he said. 

I told him that this was the editor of The Smoky Mountain News that he spoke with yesterday. We chatted, learned his name was Jeff, and that he’s had little luck contacting large newspapers around the state. We talked a little politics, he told me he’s gone from Democrat to Republican and is now an Independent. I told him about my conservative Southern Democrat father who later in life embraced social causes. 

“You know, life’s not all politics. We probably got a lot more in common than we have differences. People need to remember that. And thanks for calling back, Scott.”

We’ll likely never talk again, and I don’t even know where’s he lives. Happy holidays, Jeff, and more power to you. 

(SMN Editor and Publisher Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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1 comment

  • The Jan 6 incident was nothing like what the idiots in FedGov are saying it was. There was little violence, and much of that was perpetuated by provocateurs and some policemen that have no business wearing a badge. Poeple have been arrested for simply having been in DC, regardless of anything they might have done.

    The entire thing is a result of FedGov having turned sharply fascist with the Biden misrule.

    posted by Quartermaster

    Friday, 12/16/2022

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