By Jefferson Flanders

Borrowing a line, once again, from New York newspaper columnist Jimmy Cannon: nobody asked me, but…

SNOW ON THE BATTLE GREEN, THE TEMPERATURE IN THE TEENS, yet Saturday night (February 3rd) found country music star Hal Ketchum far from his Austin, Texas home, performing in the Joyful Noise Coffeehouse (which borrows the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church for a performance space) in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Accompanied by guitarist Kenny Grimes, Ketchum treated the crowd to many of his hits (“I Know Where Love Lives,” “Past the Point of Rescue,” “Small Town Saturday Night,” and “Stay Forever”) as well as songs from his new, soon-to-be released album (“One More Midnight”) and some of his darker, more-bluesy material, including “Unforgiven,” “I Miss My Mary” and a long ballad, “Poor Lila’s Ghost.”

Ketchum has an amazing voice—with a greater vocal range than he reveals on his albums—and is a solid guitarist (considering that he started as a drummer and had to re-learn to play the instrument after a bout with Acute Transverse Myelitis, he is a very solid guitarist). After some three decades on the road, Ketchum is also an accomplished performer in a club setting—giving the audience a taste of his wry humor and personal philosophy.

Ketchum’s opening act: the young singer/songwriter Liz Carlisle, who hails from Montana, holds a degree from Harvard (summa cum laude), and has a clear, distinctive voice.
FOR WHAT IT IS WORTH, here’s my Super Bowl prediction: Colts 34, Bears 17. Of course I also picked the Colts against Joe Namath and the New York Jets in Super Bowl III in 1969 (of course if Baltimore quarterback Earl Morrall throws the damn ball to a wide-open Jimmy Orr in the end zone near the end of the first half, the Colts would likely have won the game, and my prediction would have been right.)

THE RIGHTEOUS URGE TO SILENCE OTHERS isn’t as strong as, say, the urge to merge, but it’s still pretty powerful, especially on America’s college campuses. John Leo has an interesting essay in the City Journal detailing the continuing and disturbing appeal of campus speech codes and other assaults on the First Amendment. Leo notes that the philosophical underpinnings for this suppression emanates from the late Herbert Marcuse (a totalitarian at heart). Also noted by Leo is the American Civil Liberties Union’s silence about the campaign to curb free speech in academe.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTE comes from Edmund Burke’s “A Vindication of Natural Society: A View of the Miseries and Evils Arising to Mankind,” published in 1756, and it suggests the enduring existence of the guardians of politically correct expression:

A man is allowed sufficient freedom of thought, provided he knows how to choose his subjects properly. You may criticize freely upon the Chinese constitution, and observe with as much severity as you please upon the absurd tricks or destructive bigotry of the bonzees. But the scene is changed as you come homeward, and atheism or treason may be names given in Britain, to what would be reason and truth if asserted of China.

And didn’t the New Testament conclude that a prophet has no honor in his own country?

Reprinted from Neither Red nor Blue

Copyright © 2007 Jefferson Flanders

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