Ted Turner's Better Half

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I
confess I have a love-hate relationship with Ted Turner.

On
the one hand, the man's politics are simply odious. He is the poster
child for authoritarian globalism and the United Nations uber
alles.

On
the other, he is the media genius responsible for my favorite cable
channel, Cartoon Network. Twentysomething animation addicts like
me certainly owe the man a debt. If only our payments weren't going
to the U.N.

My
ambivalent feelings toward old Ted used to cause me concern. I doubted
my own libertarian ideological purity. That is, until I realized
that there are, in fact, two Ted Turners.

The
first is the one we all know and love to hate. The second is the
one who realizes, despite the first's globalist ambitions, that
regionalism matters.

I
know the second Ted exists because his newest cable TV channel is
something called Turner South.

In
part, Turner South exists to give Ted another outlet for Atlanta
Braves baseball games, but much of the channel's programming is
aimed at appealing to distinctly Southern sensibilities.

There
are shows about Southern cooking, shows about Southern music, shows
about Southern sports, and on and on.

Frankly,
much of it doesn't appeal to me. I've lived in the South my entire
life and, apart from owning my own Caribbean island, can't imagine
living anywhere else. But the appeal of country music and NASCAR
racing remains lost on me.

Nevertheless,
the South is also the birthplace of jazz and the blues. It was home
to William Faulkner, and it is still dotted with the grand, gothic
ruins of days past, despite the efforts of New South scalawags to
pave over the place.

More
to the point, we have fried catfish and barbecue, even if the folks
in South Carolina perversely slather mustard sauce on their pork
instead of good old Alabama vinegar sauce.

I'm
not certain if Ted No. 1 knows exactly what Ted No. 2 is up to.
While the first is trying to unite a world that dares cling to its
local customs and traditions, the second is reinforcing local cultures
and traditions. And not just any traditions, but those of the most
politically incorrect people on Earth, Southerners.

If
the folks in Hollywood and New York get wind of what Ted Mark II
is doing, they may have his head on a pike. After all, we know that
our bicoastal culture czars regard loving Dixie as very near a capital
offense. It's at least a hate crime.

There
are plenty of reasons to distrust former Sen. John Ashcroft, and
we'd all be better off if the Justice Department he is soon to lead
were boarded up or turned into squash courts. But the fact that
he dares show respect for heroes like Robert E. Lee isn't one of
them.

Now
here is Ted Turner, consciously or not, admitting that, no, the
South isn't just like the rest of the country. It's different. And
some of those differences are worth preserving and even celebrating.

Yes,
I know Ted puts the same "Beastmaster" movies on Turner
South that he puts on every other network bearing his name, but
you get my point.

And,
if the South's culture is different, why should anyone be surprised
to find its politics are different, too?

Now
I'm not saying its politics are perfect. It seems some strains of
Yankee Puritanism have taken deep root in Southern soil. Purtanism
is like Yankee kudzu. As a result, I can't buy Tennessee whiskey
on Sundays, and I have to drive 15 miles to another county to buy
it at all. But since this is exactly the sort of local outrage the
federal government doesn't seem interested in ending, I don't see
why I need the feds at all.

So,
the next time you're channel surfing, stop on Turner South and reflect
that at least half of Ted Turner's brain actually does work properly.

And
if you're lucky, Turner South won't be showing Patrick Swazye in
"Road House" for the billionth time.

January
22, 2001

Franklin
Harris is an Alabama native and a barbeque fiend. He writes for
The
Decatur (Ala.) Daily.

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