This is an opinion article.

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were among the 100,000-plus spectators attending the SEC West showdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, Nov. 9, between No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Alabama.

The Bayou Bengals won the game, but Hoyt Hutchinson, 32, of Tuscaloosa, dominated the headlines afterward. He was the man who allegedly cut an 8-foot gash in the infamous “Baby Trump” balloon.

In a statement, Tuscaloosa police said Hutchinson was charged with first degree criminal mischief and transported to Tuscaloosa County Jail where he was held on a $2,500 bond.

How senseless and disrespectful of this man to destroy this balloon — something those people held quite dear to them. I’m sure those people went to great lengths to purchase the balloon and get it to the college town. Can you imagine the price tag on that thing?

Hutchison has a GoFundMe account to help with potential court costs. He’s raised thousands of dollars, but he won’t get a penny from me. This man deserved to be charged for his irrational actions.

But now I have a few questions.

When will police start arresting and charging the folks who stomp on, set fire to and continually disgrace our nation’s flag? Because if it isn’t OK to bust someone’s political balloon, when did it become OK to deface our nation’s colors — the flag that thousands of men and women have given their life to serve and protect?

Talk about a price tag.

Didn’t we just spend Monday honoring our veterans? Yet, every other day of the year we choose to overlook the disrespect so many people within our nation show toward our flag. And trust me, it happens — maybe not in our backyard, but it happens. Yet, for reasons unknown, people turn their heads and say nothing.

How honorable.

Trump’s campaign slogan for 2020 is “Keep America Great,” which is a play on his previous slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

Well, I’m sorry, but I’m about to bust a few balloons.

Sure, unemployment is down to record lows and the economy is currently on the incline. But there’s more to being “great” than conquering a few items on the agenda, which politicians constantly remind us of by flooding our email inboxes.

When I think of a “great” country, I think of a place were respect is given no matter who or where you come from — people often confuse respect with trust, but respect is not something we earn. Trust is.

I don’t imagine a place where people are terrified to simply dream or aim high. I think of a place where people are encouraged to set lofty goals, and not be dragged down by traditions of ignorance or a lack of quality parenting.

I think of a place where you don’t have to fear for your life when speaking your opinion or just being different.

To achieve greatness, America has a long way to go — no matter who sits in Oval Office. Frankly, making America great again doesn’t start with a president or any specific party. It starts with the people.

Taylor Beck is managing editor for The Reporter. He can be reached at

(3) comments


The nation's flag is not someone else's private property. The balloon was. You're comparing apples and oranges.


If the USA citizens could only make America great again without waiting for a president to lead them and just do it on their own accord that is the winning victory, being the working hands of god.


You may not like it, but the SCOTUS ruled that it's free speech!

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