Hammer Takes Whoopi’s Side?

“Timmons, are you familiar with The View?”

Seven words, albeit spoken in a voice loud as thunder, and I wondered if my heart was going to attack John Hammer and me both. My first thought was I wondered if that electric fly zapper thingamabob could double as a defibrillator?

For those new to these scribblings, John Hammer is a mountain of a man. February, with all its red, is a good month for him because that’s exactly the color of his neck and the red (white and blue) all-American blood coursing through his veins. He loves this country and has a hard time with those who don’t. Every so often he comes by to share what’s on his mind – and somehow, despite his size, manages to sneak in unnoticed and scares the living bejeezus out of me.

“Yeah, John. I know the show. It’s a panel of women who-”

“They’re idiots,” Hammer interrupted.

“Well, idiots is a pretty strong term, John. I think-”

“That’s not the point though, Timmons. Did you hear that one of them got suspended because she made an idiotic comment about the Holocaust?”

“I did, John,” I answered. “That was Whoopi Goldberg. In fact, I think she just came back and-”

“She never should have been suspended, Timmons.”

Whoa. I didn’t see that one coming. I’m sure Goldberg and Hammer are about as far apart politically as anyone could be. Hammer defending her? What’s the world coming to?

“Does anyone understand free speech,” he asked. “Is everything in this country about canceling other people these days?”

Not sure what I was more surprised about – Hammer standing up for a woman he can’t tolerate politically or the fact that he knows what cancel culture is.

“Look, what she said was racist and pig-headed,” he continued. “She’s as two-faced as anyone can be . . . but so what? That’s the problem in this country. Not only can no one disagree anymore, but some folks just go out of their way to make sure you believe what they believe. And heaven help you if you don’t. That Goldberg woman is like that, so if it wasn’t so damn scary it’d be kind of funny it got turned around on her. But it’s not. It’s just scary and wrong.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I mean free speech, Timmons. Aren’t you listening? The founders of this country thought that freedom of speech was so important they made it part of the very first amendment they wrote. And do you know what free speech is, Timmons?”

I wasn’t sure if that was rhetorical, so I decided the wise move was listening.

“It’s easy to let people say whatever they want when you agree with them. But free speech means letting the folks you disagree with have their say. We’ve somehow forgot that these days. There’s so much hate and rage out there. Too many folks are choosing sides. Their side is right and everyone else is wrong. And they run their mouths and close their ears – and that’s a recipe for disaster.”

The man called the Hammer paused. “Timmons, we’re turning into lefts and rights and there’s not much middle ground any more. We need to talk, but more than that, we need to listen with an open mind and an open heart. The answers aren’t that hard. But ain’t nobody going to find them if they never listen.”

With that he turned and left. I hope he knew he got me to listen. – Timmons is the chief executive officer of Sagamore News Media, the company that owns The Noblesville Times. He is a proud Noblesville High School graduate and can be contacted at [email protected]