Earlier this month, a small town Tennessee boy – a child only 14 years old – killed himself. His grieving parents and grandparents say that their child – who happened to have been born gay – took his own life because he could no longer deal with the bigoted cruelty of some other kids at his public school.
Only a week or so later – Tennessee state Sen. Stacey Campfield – a man without children of his own, and whose salary comes from tax dollars paid into state coffers by the dead child’s parents and grandparents – was asked about this recent child suicide and others like itin a national radio interview.
Sen. Campfield responded by saying, among other equally callous things, “That bullying thing is the biggest lark out there.”
Yes, he really said that.
Stacey Campfield is a very strange and sad man. Even most conservative Republicans here in East Tennessee – those people he likes to believe agree with him and support his bizarre legislative agendas – actually find him embarrassing, disturbing, and totally irresponsible in his waste of tax dollars on promotion of fringe issues.
But while many prominent East Tennessee conservatives will privately share how they feel about Campfield’s show-offy weirdness, for whatever reason, most have been unwilling to challenge him publicly.
But today, Campfield met his match in conservative Knoxville talk radio host, Phil Williams.
Phil Williams with his producer, Shelley Ellis-Farrell
Now if I had to guess, I’d say Phil Williams’ political and religious views are much closer to those of Sean Hannity than Rachel Maddow.
Gay rights activist, Phil Williams is not.
However, when Stacey Campfield appeared on his radio show this afternoon, Phil Williams proved what he is.
Phil Williams is an intellectually honest and principled man who is not willing to let a politician of any stripe come onto his show and say things that are provably,dangerously false regarding matters of critical public health importance – not without being challenged.
Stacey Campfield has gotten used to being the ratings-boosting, newspaper comment-generating sideshow act around Knox County. He’s been allowed to act like a dangerous buffoon while still being treated with neutral respect by mainstream local media, just because he somehow managed to win a seat in state political office representing our community. But today, Phil Williams became the first high-profile local conservative to say enough, putting Campfield on notice that just because they may belong to the same political party, or even attend the same kind of church, Campfield doesn’t get a free pass to say shameful, cruel or dangerous things whenever and wherever he wants.
Even though he and I likely don’t see eye to eye on various political issues, Phil Williams is a bit of a political hero to me today. And I sure do hope that others in our community from both sides of the aisle also appreciate the backbone and integrity he displayed in standing up to Stacey Campfield the way he did.
Thanks Phil. You’re a good guy, and a good American. And the principled stance you offered this town today knows no political party.
If you agree with me, go thank Phil William yourself over on his show’s Facebook page.