Some folks are a ‘whole other kind of crazy’

Published 9:35 pm Friday, February 18, 2011

Alabama storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham said that there are three things that distinguish us as Southerners – well, maybe “set us apart” might work better.

Three things, Mrs. Windham said. We Southerners announce when we have to go to the bathroom, eat off each other’s plates and take our loony relatives out and parade them around in public.

We do like to parade our more “interesting” relatives but not in the sense that we make fun of them. We just enjoy their antics and sharing them.

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But, collectively, Southerners have been paraded on a national stage since long before the first bowl of grits was fully digested. And Alabama usually leads the parade.

We are made fun of for the way we talk and drag-tail around. We are portrayed as illiterate rednecks that sit around in “overhalls,” picking fleas off dogs and drinking moonshine whiskey. Our image is that of kicking up dust in pickup trucks with shotguns mounted in the back window and a Rebel flag flying from the radio antenna.

That image of Southerners is expounded by the news media. Every time there’s a tornado, a flood or a hurricane in the Heart of Dixie, CNN, Fox and every other news network send a star reporter to flush out the story and they parade out one of our own – straight from “Deliverance.”

Out of nearly five million people, the news nose can sniff out a whiskered, beer-bellied Bubba in overalls and a “Hell no, I ain’t forgettin’” oil-stained baseball cap, with a mouth full of missing teeth, tobacco juice running out of the corners of his mouth and with his subjects and verbs in complete disagreement and his participles dangling. This Bubba is chosen to speak for all of us.

Then, there are those unclaimed relatives who parade themselves and provide more fodder for the “grits mill.”

And, just when Alabama has something to really brag and boast about, out come the lunatics. When the Alabama Crimson Tide was playing for the national championship in the Rose Bowl last January, the flying nut soared over the “Bowl” trailing a sign bashing the state’s governor. And, now that the Auburn Tigers are the national champions of the college football world, another nut drops out of nowhere and brings blight to Alabama the Beautiful.

Nutty people are one thing but crazy, stupid people are animals of a whole other kind. Al Updyke Jr. is one of “them other kind.”

How anybody could do such a mean, hateful, shameful thing as poison a couple of century oaks and destroy a hundred years of football tradition in the greatest college football state of them all is beyond comprehension.

It’s one thing to pull a prank, like putting a Newton on the Bear. But it’s a whole other thing to murder trees and tradition. Not even the most “rabid” Alabama fan could take pleasure in that.

Junior has been arrested and could be facing a $50,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison. That would be far too good for him.

He needs to be painted orange and blue, have War Eagle tattooed on his tongue and put in the stocks on Toomer’s Corner and exposed to the scorn of all of those who abhor what he has done.

Jaine Treadwell is features editor at The Messenger. Emai her at