Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wither Stompers?

Dear Mountain Xpress Editors,

In a recent letter to the editor ["Good ol’ stomp-and-chant," Letters, Jan. 02], reader Jason Korol attempts to address some of the interesting questions posed by Lady Passion, Diuvei & Coven Oldenwilde, in these pages [Let’s have a good ol’ stomp-and-chant,” Letters, Dec. 26], who have challenged the fire-breathing Carolina Stompers to a live debate that they have humorously characterized as a “Spiritual Smackdown.”

I have enjoyed Mr. Korol's reply, and others I have seen here and there. But I think an actual formal debate ought to take place instead of a virtual debate online, in the papers, and through emails amounting to a series of disconnected rejoinders. Let the Christians and the Pagans make the best case for their particular brand of mystical faith, directly and in-person, using all of the logic, evidence, and persuasive power they can muster, if any, and let each argument rise or fall on the merits.

All of this confrontational ‘challenge-and-response’ comes, as your readers may recall, after Stompers Richard Bernier and Chad Nesbitt filmed and published videos of Asheville city council candidate Elaine Lite (D) participating in a protest demonstration to bring attention to the illegal, unethical and incompetent sale of public property to a private developer for erecting a nice block of condos a "stone’s-throw" from city hall—a story covered in your feature article “Fighting Mad”, Dec. 5, about the Stompers, their members and their intentions.

Thankfully, the famed magnolia tree, which was the symbolic focal point of the demonstration, is still standing. And still no condemnations from the Stompers of the government corruption that compelled the protesters to demonstrate their deeply-felt concern in the first place.

Since that negative political attack ad was made, the Stompers have also challenged their adversaries—Elaine Lite and other progressives and libertarians—to sit for interviews on URTV and submit to so-called “honest conversations.” If this is the model the Stompers uphold for rational debate in Asheville then the Wiccans are simply following the standard set by the Stompers themselves.

To date, the Stompers are still searching for their spines and furtively mumbling amongst themselves in dark corners, offering little more than the fallacious ‘tu quoque’ (or “You too have shied from our challenges, therefore, so shall we”). It seems oddly out of character for the Stompers to wither in face of an honest conversation.

Where now are the posturing Stompers and the former adolescent bravado that has so far typified their clique?


"Take this, you posturing Stompers!" by Tim Peck, Mountain Xpress, January 16, 2008.

"The liberal smackdown expands" by Chad Nesbitt, Mountain Xpress, January 16, 2008.

"Going down to their level" by Eamon Martin, Mountain Xpress, Jan 23, 2008.