Writer responds to those offended
Published 9:28 pm Monday, October 13, 2003
To Whom It May Concern:
I was recently in Brewton, along with some other authors, doing a reading at the Public Library. It was really overwhelming to see such a great turnout for a "literary event" and it was especially good to see old friends and friends of my parents, Booda and Gene Hudson. Brook Walker does an amazing job. As Sonny Brewer said that night, Brooke does what libraries are supposed to do in bringing writers together with readers.
I just wanted to thank Brooke and her staff publicly and to offer a side-comment/explanation at the same time. It seems that some folks in Brewton took offense at a line that ran in an ad in the local papers: "Leave your dignity at home." This was a line my grandfather, J.E. Johnson, would put on invitations to parties at his cabin in the woods. It was his way of saying he wanted his guests to relax, not put on airs, just have a good time. I asked MacAdam/Cage to include the line in the ad so that folks would know this wasn't some kind of snooty event where we sit around trying to impress each other with our respective vocabularies.
I find it curious that people would find that offensive, but I will respond with my standard line to those who are easily offended by trivial things: If you were offended by something as insignificant as that, then you need to be offended. And often. Lighten up, huh?
Finally, I want to thank and acknowledge Freddie, Lonnie, Linda, Brenda, Joyce and Theresa, six of the seven children of Annie Jean Barnes, the woman whose death inspired my book. It took a lot of courage for them to come out to the library, in a show of solidarity-out of love for their mother. And their oldest brother, Ralph, who could not be there that night, has also stepped forward to support what I have written about. My book is fiction, but these people, Mrs. Barnes' children, have lived a reality of loss and unanswered questions. They have been dismissed, ignored and disrespected. Maybe that is what good Christian folks should really be offended by.