Bill Hay isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. He’s a white conservative in his 50s, prone to contrarian views, with a talk show called “I’m Speaking Plainly with Bill Hay.” When everyone else at the local Tea Party flagship station WBOB got blurry for Curry, Hay went with Bishop — who calls the radio personality a “straight shooter.” And sometimes that’s true. Other times, it’s off the mark.
When I read Bill Hay’s attempt at “Speaking Plainly” about One Spark via Facebook, I cringed. I knew what was coming when it started with
“Last night I must have traveled to the Twilight Zone … I went downtown to One Spark and carried with me an open mind.”
Hay liked the music and the large crowd. However, there was something he didn’t like.
Hay wrote, plainly:
“When I was in my 20s, Jacksonville was a family town with good family values and the family influence was obvious. Now, when looking at a cross section of the attendees at One Spark, I see a completely different set of young people in attendance.”
Well, yes. Hay was in his 20s during the Godbold administration. Jacksonville had 400,000 people and the air smelled like a pulp mill. And you could smoke in Famous Amos.
Things done changed. Now, Hay tells us, we have lesbians in Jacksonville.
“I see women ‘loving’ on women,” he wrote, “and an overall sense of rebelling against the established ‘Family and Wholesome Ideal’.”
When was this “established”? Half the kids I knew growing up saw their dads once a month and always had new uncles.
Hay’s plain speak continued:
“I have never seen a larger gathering of beautiful young women who have, IMHO, ruined their bodies with full sleeve tattoos. What happened to a small heart or butterfly on the ankle … I saw one young lady that was no more than 25 with what appeared to be a copy of the Mona Lisa on her entire back … and of course her backless shirt had to display that she was wearing a bra, because the big white strap went right thru the Mona’s cheekbones.”
Hmm. If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. The guy writes an essay about some gal with a full back tattoo. Clearly, Hay appreciates art.
“To me it is a statement of the downfall of the family unit and society as a whole. If your little girls dress like sluts, don’t be surprised when they come home pregnant at 18,” Hay added.
Let’s talk about the downfall of the family unit and society as a whole, which has many root causes. For starters, there’s the decline of the real purchasing power of the dollar, which makes it necessary for many people to work two or three jobs just to get by. There’s the incarceration and removal from the work force of a large swath of African-American men, especially those of fathering age, which leaves black women to raise kids alone. And then there’s a religious establishment that, on the fundamentalist side and the Catholic side, has been riddled by corruption and sex scandals. And so on.
It’s easy to diss the young as they try to figure out who they are — and who they do and do not want to be. Hay could have talked to the young lady with the Mona Lisa. But he didn’t. He scoped her out, then savaged her in print because he couldn’t take his eyes off her.
Part of the problem self-styled conservatives encounter is summed up in William F. Buckley’s statement, made many years ago in relation to his National Review magazine, that a “conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop at a time when no one is inclined to do so.” Some folks, like Hay, took that advice too seriously.
On Friday, Hay doubled down on that statement as it relates to this discussion.
“Stand up for what you believe, voice it, even if you are criticized … Political correctness will be a big contributor to the downfall of this country as well as our turning away from Christianity … Because someone felt bad about the way a group was treated is how we got affirmative action, and now we have thousands of municipal government jobs and police forces filled with unqualified workers who obtained those positions because of their race or economic background, not because they were qualified … “
Maybe he should’ve stuck with critiquing body art; history “can’t stop, won’t stop.” And the answers to the questions being asked by the people of the 21st century cannot be found in the ashes of the 20th.