This is an opinion piece. 

Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump and BBQ.

That’s practically what America was founded on. But in these upside down days, it’s enough to get you canceled if you support it. Such is the case for Guntersville Councilman Randy Whitaker who was recently called out for displaying a novelty t-shirt which read, “I support LGBTQ: Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump, BBQ.”

He hasn’t been canceled outright, at least not yet, but the undoubtedly small, vocal mob got their scalp nonetheless by way of apology. It was one of those “sorry if I offended anyone” kind of apologies, which, no matter how genuine, ring political and pathetic.

No particular offense to Whitaker, but if you care about the future of this country, of this county, then stop apologizing.

Look at the celebrities and public figures who’ve been canceled recently. Nearly all of them issued an apology (except for Piers Morgan; take a lesson). Nevertheless, they’re gone because an apology is like blood in the water; the sharks will not be deterred. 

What was it about the shirt people found so offensive?

As far as tacky, novelty t-shirts go, Whitaker’s could not have been more innocuous. It’s not even on par with the hilarious, yet crass FBI (Female Body Investigator) shirts that were popular several years ago. 

I’m still new to the area, so maybe Guntersville is full of vegans, atheists, communists and Democrats. That might begin to explain the alleged controversy. But in the reddest county in a red state, I doubt that’s the case.

More likely, it has to do with mentioning LGBTQ in any context other than abject reverence. It wouldn’t have mattered what words came after those letters on the shirt. At most, the shirt makes light of a contentious issue, but the fact that it mentions LGBTQ at all makes it an easy target for outrage.

It’s pointless to note the photo was apparently taken while he and his wife were out of state celebrating their 20th anniversary, that it was posted on his wife’s social media and that anyone outraged had to do some digging. It’s pointless to defend the shirt, to defend the councilman because he did nothing wrong. 

But he’s a public official, you say, who is held to a higher standard in representing all of his constituents. 

Again, maybe Guntersville is the blueberry in the tomato soup, but it doesn’t get more red, more MAGA, more BIBLE, GUNS and BBQ than Marshall County. Instead of apologizing, Whitaker should adopt that shirt as his campaign slogan next go around. 

In theory, you can support all things lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer as well as liberty, guns, the Bible, Trump (Donald Trump was the first president to openly support gay marriage before taking office) and barbecue. In fact, since there’s nothing obviously anti-LGBTQ about the shirt, it could be seen as a show of support for that agenda as well.

All that is beside the point. It doesn’t matter it’s just a silly t-shirt and otherwise not a big deal. It doesn’t matter what Whitaker’s personal beliefs are or what his intentions were, and it won’t matter for you either if and when the woke mob comes. 

If you, for example, killed lots of old folks by shoving them into nursing homes with COVID patients or have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct by multiple woman like New York’s governor has, then, OK, you should apologize. But only if you’re guilty.

Freedom means never having to say you’re sorry. Every time you apologize for making a joke or believing something “offensive,”  you weaken your constitution and with it, the spirit of America.

Daniel Taylor is a editor for The Reporter. His email is daniel.taylor@sandmountainreporter.com.

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