The incomparable Paul Harvey, on his daily radio newscast, would often tell a story about some attention-seeker, and after talking about what he did, Harvey would say, “He would want me to mention his name … Now, Page 3 …” Brilliant.
So that’s the way we’re going to present this, which is counter to a newspaper’s mission of trying to answer questions instead of creating them. Explaining the situation is more important than the identity of the person who is on Facebook accusing us of racism in our reporting decisions. His name anagrams, appropriately, to “Annoy Donut Shh,” so we’ll refer to him as “Annoy.”
First of all, we believe that a local black history museum is a fine idea — if there’s enough interest to provide private funding and if it has the right person or people promoting the project.
But so far, the only mention of the museum has been during the citizens’ forum portion of the Laurel City Council. Annoy is very familiar with the way the council works. He knows the purpose of the citizens’ forum — it’s only there to provide a stage for residents to air complaints or compliments. The council is not supposed to respond and no action is taken on anything that comes before the council in that forum. Those are the rules.
So, if Annoy is serious about the project, he would put a plan together, get on the City Council’s agenda and ask what the city can do to help. The guess here is that the most the city could do is donate property. Organizers would have to provide the money, the content and the plan. That’s the way serious proposals are made.
But instead, Annoy made mention of a museum in a forum in which no action can be taken, in hopes that someone else would take the torch and run with it. When someone else didn’t actually start doing the work to make it happen and the media didn’t mention it because, frankly, there’s nothing to report, he resorted to his favorite explanation for all of the world’s ills — racism.
That line of thinking and the well-deserved reputation that follows are probably why he doesn’t have any backing from anyone who can actually make a museum happen. It also probably explains why he doesn’t get more than about 20 votes when he runs for office.
Instead of trying to build goodwill, he files frivolous lawsuits or threatens to. He actually touts that as his contribution to the community. A leader is someone who can keep things out of the courts, only looking to litigation as a last resort. But when he goes to a fire, he brings gasoline, not water. Respectable people don’t respect that.
Annoy also presents himself as something of a legal scholar, yet he doesn’t grasp the simple concept that freedom of speech grants him the right to start his own newspaper, it doesn’t force the existing newspaper to quote him or the TV station to broadcast his words. Maybe he should start a newspaper, then try to find a way to survive with 20 subscribers.
Annoy has burned bridges with the business community and the media. If he really believes in this project, he will work behind the scenes and ask someone with credibility to be the face and voice of it.
We believe that a museum for the entire City of Laurel would be a more worthwhile endeavor, because black, white and other races have brought us to where we are now, and it will take all of them to get us where we’re going. We need more diversification among the movers and shakers, not more division.