Roy Exum: Me & Death Threats

Thursday, October 26, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I was sorry to see Florida football coach Jim McElwain come out the other day with the fact he and some of his Gators had gotten death threats. In my view the minute you complain or whine about it “the bad guy” get some kind of perverted joy over the discomfort he caused. I’ve gotten more anonymous threats than anyone I know but that’s part of writing opinions.

What is troubling to me is I got most of mine back in the day when America was kind -- today’s hatred and rancor has a lot of the experts rightfully concerned.  The FBI calls “a mass shooting” one where at least four person are shot in the same incident. Gun Violence Archives tells us that there were 58,790 mass shootings in 2016, up from 51,881 from just two years earlier. It is a disturbing trend.

My first threats started some 40 years ago when I predicted football games in the Friday newspaper. Pick against Tennessee on any weekend and you’d get a cussing from some faceless coward – this long before caller ID – and I was pretty awful returning their guff.

A CALLER: “Listen you Pat-Dye loving (deleted), the whipping the Big Orange is going to give Auburn tomorrow ain’t nothing to what your bloody face is going to look like in the gutter. I know you are in your office and, when you come out of there, I’ll be waiting with a baseball bat!”

ME: “You can try but I carry a knife and I’ve got mean brothers … and, say, can you get here in under an hour? I’ve got a high school game tonight and I can’t wait around on some ‘fraidy. You best bring your wife because a dime will get you a dollar that she can whip your (mule,) too!”

Death threats? I’ve gotten death threats for years. When I started writing about the criminals in the Tennessee Walking Horse arenas, I got a new bunch and some are absolutely comical. I’d get anonymous letters that included pictures of my children, copies of street directions to my house. I also got a handgun carry permit because some threats were every bit as vile as some psychopath’s nightmare. But look what has happened – public scorn is killing the “Dirty Lick.”

The most effective thing before caller ID was an unlisted telephone number and an answering machine lets you delete some crank call before the rube can say 10 words. The big thing is you never let a loser get under your skin. Totally ignore ugly people and soon they’ll leave you alone. There is an age-old saying, “Never let a shark smell your blood.”

I remember once an angry Georgia fan called my house and told my wife to get out of the house by sundown. He and his slime threatened to burn us out. “Have you ever seen a child after a fire?” What a loser! She called the police and they kept an eye peeled on our house that night but, just as I assured everybody, a coward will never show up.

I love civil discourse with those who disagree with me because I am always intrigued by their views. Today they are my best teachers and I have learned so much (about myself) by listening to what they say and picturing myself in their shoes. It doesn’t bother me at all to change my mind – that’s healthy. And when two people “agree to disagree,” that’s society at its best.

The biggest lesson a kid can ever learn at recess or on the playground is that a bully absolutely hates the sight of his own blood. Unchecked, these are the people who grow into making threats with anyone who doesn’t share their misery. Bill Curry calls them “The Legion of the Miserable” and, man, if there is anything that makes you so mad you threaten another person, the best gift you can give yourself is a new hobby.

I’ve had a problem with depression for 25 years and one way I treat myself is to never read articles that might depress me. I avoid depressing people. It depresses me when NFL owners and players disrespect the United States so I don’t watch Sunday football. I don’t wish ill will on any player and not a one is worth me taking part of my life to threaten him or stoop to his level.

As a matter of fact, I can think of nothing on earth that would make me protest anywhere other than at the ballot box. I’ve been threatened enough to know personally that it never works. Satchel Paige, the great baseball player, admonished us to “avoid anything that riles your blood” and it’s obvious your life will be happier if you avoid conflict. Let it always be a choice you make. No one can make you inferior unless you allow it.

The only mistake you can make if you are ever threatened is to acknowledge it. Don’t you dare give “The Legion of the Miserable” a reason to be.

* * *

“Never get in a fight with a pig – you’ll both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

Roy Exum: Why I Am Thankful

You would think that after 40 years of publishing an annual list of things for which I am thankful, I’d be getting to the bottom of it, but it seems the older I get I have found I appreciate so much more around me. I take absolute delight in planting a flower, feeding the birds and throwing a ball for my dog. I find that the more people who I come to know the more who I come to ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Thanksgiving Eve

I don’t know who was the first to do the Famous Pregnant Turkey prank but I’ll bet you a handful of giblets there will be a lot of copycats who try it today. The trick is finding a Cornish hen that is small enough to stuff inside the larger turkey. Then you skillfully pack the bird with some of that sausage-sage dressing and put your Thanksgiving dinner in the oven. When all ... (click for more)

Hixson Burglary Suspect Tries To Swim Away; Deputies Catch Him In Borrowed Boat

A Hixson burglary suspect on Wednesday tried to swim away from deputies, but to no avail.   The proprietor of Chattanooga Fish and Fun was notified when his camera system was triggered by an individual attempting to break into his business. The owner immediately contacted the Sheriff's Office and drove to the business location.   As deputies arrived on scene, ... (click for more)

5 Disinherited Adopted Children Of Dr. J. Don Brock May Share In Rich Estate After All

Five disinherited adopted children of the late Chattanooga businessman J. Don Brock may share in his large estate after all. After losing at the trial court and appeals court level, the plaintiffs won a victory at the Tennessee Supreme Court. Justice Cornelia Clark ruled in favor of the adopted children and remanded the case to the trial court for settlement of the estate. ... (click for more)

Rodney Stoker Wins Turkey Trot 8K Again

It has been about 15 years since Rodney Stoker captured first place overall in the annual Sports Barn Turkey Trot, but he’s been doing some serious training in recent weeks and it paid off Thursday morning as the 41-year-old former UTC standout was victorious with a time of 27 minutes, 18 seconds. Dylan Hassett, a promising 24-year-old from Atlanta who is making her way as a ... (click for more)

JOHN HUNT: Thanksgiving 2017 Special As Always

I can’t believe it’s that time again.  Another year has come and gone and where did it all go? My father once told me that time really flies as you get older and I’m starting to believe him. But we’re back to one of my favorite holidays of the year – Thanksgiving – and I’m looking forward to spending quality time with family and friends.  I’m sure that I’ll eat too ... (click for more)