I’m totally jumping on the bandwagon of angry West Virginians rolling virtually toward Sheetz’s corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania. The cause: Mountain State pride in pepperoni rolls.
The outcry started Friday, when Rogers and Mazza’s Italian Bakery in Clarksburg, W.Va., announced on its Facebook page that Sheetz abruptly canceled the company’s contract to provide pepperoni rolls for 117 stores in West Virginia and other states. Worse, they lost the contract to a company outside West Virginia, the birthplace of the pepperoni roll.
“I would suggest and appreciate everyone writing this company with their displeasure on their decision,” Rogers and Mazza’s urged its fans — and they did.
Those complaints prompted the Charleston Gazette-Mail to run a story today. It caught my attention on Facebook, and here’s what I have to say to Sheetz after reading it:
UPDATE, July 30: Sheetz has caved to the pressure applied by West Virginia’s angry rednecks. Here’s what the company said in announcing that its Mountain State stores will sell West Virginia-made pepperoni rolls: “Our customers told us loud and clear that it is important to them to have those rolls provided and baked by a West Virginia company. I couldn’t be happier to have that feedback and we are committed to executing upon it.”
UPDATE, Aug. 17: Rogers and Mazza’s paid the price for biting the hand that fed it a contract for pepperoni rolls for years — the bakery lost the contract to another West Virginia-based competitor, Home Industry Bakery. “The company went through a thorough evaluation of West Virginia vendors and selected the best partner to supply all 49 stores in the state,” Sheetz announced.
Thank you, Rogers and Mazza’s for exposing a potential injustice at the hands of Sheetz. You took a hit to your pocketbook for West Virginia pride, and I, for one, appreciate it.
Filed under: Business and Food and Media and Social Media and West Virginia
Kaitlen Whitt is about as enlightened as they come from an intellectual perspective. She has a degree in English and taught the language in Bulgaria while on a prestigious Fulbright scholarship. She has traveled to more than 40 countries. She has contributed to the Traveling 219 multimedia project and Allegheny Mountain Radio. And she makes and sells jewelry.
But Whitt hasn’t always been proud of her redneck roots in West Virginia. By her own admission, she saw it as “a dumping ground full of uncultured, uneducated, unfriendly, and uncouth people” and wanted to “rise above a home that I understood as a prison.”
Thankfully, her success at escaping the state and packing a lifetime of adventures into a few short years has given her fresh perspective. Whether she realizes it yet or not, Whitt’s journey to true enlightenment helped her see that being redneck isn’t so bad after all.
Here’s an excerpt from her “love letter to West Virginia” documenting that journey:
I’ve always been proud to be from West Virginia, and the stereotypes about it simply reinforce my love of it. In that sense I don’t get why Whitt once seemed to resent her roots. But she is now an eloquent spokeswoman for the place we both consider home. I’m glad to have her in the enlightened redneck fold.
Filed under: Entertainment and Hatin' On Rednecks and Media and People and Redneck Humor and Rednecks and West Virginia
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While we’re on the subject of politically correct vengeance against all things supposedly offensive, there is now a satirical petition at Change.org that exposes the ridiculousness of the movement. It calls on the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel to change its name and logo.
“I say all of us European Americans start protesting C****er Barrel,” the petition says. “It uses an offensive slur and it is deeply offensive and mocks our long and proud heritage. The name is offensive, [and] their logo stereotypes European Americans as people who sit on chairs and lean against what appears to be a bourbon barrel, claiming we are all a bunch of alcoholics.”
Although the petition is just a joke, a few years ago there was a more serious movement to “save the redneck” by exposing the frequent attacks on the only class of people still fair game for mockery without outrage in America. Cracker and redneck are just two of the terms of derision for this breed. Bumpkin, hayseed, hick, hillbilly, peckerwood, rube and yokel work, too.
But if you’re really intelligent — in this case a synonym for elitist — you can demean an entire region without using any of those words. All you have to do is disguise your scorn with a catchy headline like “How the South Skews America” and sell it to a sophisticated rag like Politico.
“Minus the South,” liberal propagandist Michael Lind wrote earlier this month, “the rest of the U.S. probably would be more like Canada or Australia or Britain or New Zealand — more secular, more socially liberal, more moderate in the tone of its politics and somewhat more generous in social policy. And it would not be as centralized as France or as social democratic as Sweden.”
A sizable population of Americans, not just those in the South, have no interest in becoming as secular or socially liberal as Canada, Australia or New Zealand, let alone the British we rebelled against. But with wacky insights like that, Lind could well be the brains behind the bigotry in the “C****er Barrel” branding.
Filed under: Culture and Hatin' On Rednecks and History and Just For Laughs and Media and News & Politics and Rednecks
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Goaded into action by a mass shooting at a black church last month, the state of South Carolina finally has decided, after decades of controversy and ignored pleas, to remove the Confederate flag from state Capitol property.
The best part of this story is that a daughter of the Confederacy, state Rep. Jenny Horne, made the most powerful argument against the flag in an emotion-packed floor speech. Horne is a descendant of Jefferson Davis, the man who led the Confederacy in rebellion against the United States in order to preserve slavery in the South.
“This issue is not getting any better with age,” she said in urging the House to reject an amendment that would have kept the flag on Capitol grounds even longer. Now it will come down tomorrow.
Everyone should watch Horne’s speech, share it and celebrate the fact that South Carolina has forsaken the irrelevant “Southern heritage” defense that kept the flag flying for far too long.
Unfortunately, there is more to this story. Like sharks that smell blood in the water, politicians are in a feeding frenzy to devour every Confederate symbol in America. They don’t see South Carolina’s laudable decision to stop officially endorsing the flag as a victory; they see it as the first step toward eradicating any acknowledgement that the Civil War ever happened.
That is a dangerous crusade. After watching Horne’s speech, take a few minutes to read an excellent USA Today column that makes the point well.
“If the nation aspires to teach its own history and ensure the next generation is aware of its civic duties,” Naval Academy Museum director Claude Berube wrote, “then we must ignore the call to turn our back on the past — the good, the bad and the ugly. When a nation dissolves traces of its past, even one pock-marked with deviations from our founding aspirations, political disagreements today will be treated with the same ignorance as the Stalinst purges or the intolerance of ISIS.”
The Confederate flag is not redneck, and South Carolina was right to stop sanctioning it officially. Although I support the right of unenlightened rednecks to fly it privately, I wish they wouldn’t because the flag is a symbol of racist idiocy and evidence of foolish Confederate pride.
But now it has inspired a campaign of politically correct vengeance that is just as foolish. Taken in context, the Confederate flag painted on the General Lee of “Dukes of Hazzard” fame is not offensive. The same is true of many of the other symbols now being vilified by irrational people.
Wake up, America, and stop swinging from one political extreme to the other. You’re being played by propagandists in an age of mass delusion, and the country is suffering as a result.
Filed under: Government and History and News & Politics and People and Rednecks
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If you have $100, you can buy $97.09 worth of goods in Virginia, according to a new analysis and map of government data by the Tax Foundation. Cross the border into West Virginia (known as the Best Virginia to those of us who are from there) and you’ll get $16 more value for your $100 investment.
That is why our family likes to shop when we visit the Mountain State.
Filed under: Culture and Government and News & Politics and West Virginia
A Washington Post video about a fledgling newspaper that is produced in a historic West Virginia hotel helped the reporter on that story win a national award last month.
Lee Powell traveled to The Wells Inn in Sistersville, W.Va., last year to get the scoop on The INNformer, dubbing it a “bi-monthly miracle” in an era when newspapers are dying. Powell included the companion 4 1/2-minute video report in a a package of three stories that he submitted for an Edward R. Murrow Award for online writing. Powell won the award on June 24.
I’ve had my eye on The INNformer for nearly two years now, ever since media writer Jim Romenesko started mocking hotel/newspaper owner Charles Winslow over his quirky job ads. The free paper is published just a few miles from my hometown, and my parents get it delivered to their house. I skim the back issues when we visit and now have a stack of them at our home hundreds of miles away. I also check the paper’s Facebook page periodically.
Reading the paper as an experienced editor and reporter, I haven’t been impressed with the journalistic quality of The INNformer. Grammatical errors and typos are common — one issue was printed without standard masthead details like the date — and the writing can be bland. The paper also has missed multiple opportunities to tell compelling stories.
I can think of two from my hometown, which is part of the paper’s circulation area. The first story had great feature potential. When former Paden City High School band director Ed Hood died last summer, alumni and current band members paid tribute to him at a memorial service. It was a great news hook for exploring Hood’s legacy in building “The Biggest Little Band in the Land.”
The second, a shooting that left a man dead in Paden City, happened a month ago. That is big news in a small town, but the coverage overall has been sparse and confusing. It’s the perfect opening for an upstart newspaper to fill the void. Yet The INNformer dedicated only four superficial paragraphs to the shooting several days after it happened.
All that said, as a small-town boy who grew up reading daily and weekly newspapers in the Ohio Valley, I still appreciate the work The INNformer is doing. It’s the part-time passion of a local businessman who cares enough about his community to produce a paper that is likely more hassle than it’s worth in terms of revenue.
The newspaper is quaint, like the hotel where it is created. And although the journalism is sometimes lacking, it is improving. It’s also welcomed by readers who aren’t as critical (for better or worse) as seasoned journalists like me. “It’s something everybody looks forward to,” one reader told the Post.
Given enough time, dedication and desire, Winslow could become the next Adam Kelly of West Virginia journalism. Kelly, the “country editor” who owned and ran the Tyler Star News, was a fixture in Sistersville, Paden City and other small towns when I was young. The big shoes he left behind haven’t been filled since.
Winslow could be the one to step into them. “I actually enjoy this,” he told Powell. “That sounds kind of stupid but — my paper, I handle it from start to finish.”
Filed under: Grammar and Media and News & Politics and People and Video and West Virginia
Steven Tyler’s claim to fame is singing and screaming for the rock band Aerosmith. But now the dude who looks like a lady is singing country music.
Filed under: Family and Music and People and Redneck Music
Last week’s Supreme Court decision that invented a constitutional right for homosexuals to marry has stirred a host of emotions within the hearts of Christians. They include anger at the country’s rejection of godliness, anxiety about the fate of religious freedom, and frustration over the weak faith of brethren who have embraced the misleading “God is love” gospel of appeasement.
These feelings are understandable and even righteous. But they are volatile and if not kept in check, they could explode into sinful attitudes and behavior, whether in the immediate aftermath of the ruling or as its consequences become evident. The ruling also may weaken the resolve of some Christians to accept the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality as truth — and to share that truth with others who need to hear it.
In other words, the spiritual fallout of the ruling could be as great as the political and cultural impact. Five justices on the Supreme Court did not directly change the spiritual reality in America in that no one suddenly started practicing homosexuality because of their votes. But Satan clearly is using the decision as a wedge to tempt God’s people into committing sins that are just as eternally destructive as homosexuality. He may have been on the prowl for our souls all along.
We Christians need to prepare our minds accordingly as the age of gay marriage becomes fully realized in the United States. Here are some relevant biblical truths:
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (I Cor. 6:13). To some extent, it’s too late for saints to be on the alert against deceptions about homosexuality. Advocates have achieved their long-term goal of overhauling the views of straight America. The “massive, silent cultural revolution” they led has been so successful that today more Americans believe homosexuality is moral than those who believed divorce was in 2001. This includes many people who claim to be Christians. The pressure to conform to this cultural norm will be even greater thanks to the Supreme Court’s endorsement of gay marriage. To stand firm in such circumstances, we must don the full armor of God and be ready to engage in spiritual battle (Eph. 6:10-18).
“We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). In speaking for the Supreme Court’s majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said people whose faith prevents them from condoning same-sex marriage have the right under the First Amendment to teach those principles. But in separate dissenting opinions, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito warned that the ruling offers “no comfort” to Christians, who can expect to be vilified if they show themselves “unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” So far Roberts and Alito appear to have a better grasp of political reality. Believers are being punished for refusing to bake cakes, take photos, provide flowers or rent facilities for same-sex wedding ceremonies and even to perform such ceremonies. The Supreme Court hasn’t given Christians any reason to hope that will change. Last year the court refused to reconsider a ruling against a photographer. It appears likely that Christians will be forced to choose between obeying God or men when it comes to gay marriage. The apostles Peter and John, who went to jail for preaching “the whole message of this Life” and then defied the authorities who told them to stop talking about Jesus (Acts 4:13-22, 5:27-39), serve as shining examples of how to respond when faced with that dilemma.
“Whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves” (Rom. 13:2). When no conflict exists between the gospel and the government, Christians must obey men in order to obey God. Down the road, that may mean paying more taxes. The Supreme Court decision already has triggered talk of eliminating the tax exemptions that churches have enjoyed for decades. Such a policy could have far-reaching budgetary consequences for congregations. As U.S. citizens, we Christians certainly have the right to defend tax exemptions with as much political force as we can muster, knowing that indirectly they have helped spread the gospel in America and abroad. But if we ultimately lose, we must render to Uncle Sam what is his (Mark 12:13-17). (We also must not let any changes in the tax code influence our cheerful, selfless financial support of the gospel, II Cor. 9:7.) Enemies of Christ undoubtedly will look for other ways to hinder the church in its mission and get the government to go along with them. Whenever that happens, saints must honestly assess whether the demands are unrighteous or merely unjust and respond as guided by God’s Word.
Filed under: Culture and Government and News & Politics and Religion
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