BYH, offering someone something temporary for something permanent isn't a proposal, it's a con. Offering someone...

Bob Garner: The badlands of blame

Bob Garner

Bob Garner


Sunday, January 28, 2018

I recently heard one sensible politician say that shutting down government is like a chemical weapon: It should be banned by thoughtful people of any political persuasion.

“Weaponized” blame is actually what ought to be banned.

Controlled blame directed at ourselves can be a useful weapon against foolishness, as long as the caliber isn’t large enough to result in self-condemnation.

Blame publicly and tactically fired at others is, on the other hand, an actual weapon of mass destruction. It looks useful at the time, but it achieves nothing over time but devastation.

It’s a kid’s game we all ought to try to leave behind as we reach adulthood. Every conscientious parent scoffs at their kids’ trying to blame others. But regardless of what parents preach, children are as observant as foxes in seeing how fast they succumb to trying to navigate adult life among peers with a worn-out compass. Especially when they get lost in the badlands of blame.

One major root of this is that we too often say or write blameful things we would never say to another privately, at least not one-on-one. When circumstances force us to hold our fire — and our tongues — until we can see “the whites of their eyes,” and when no one else is listening, unfamiliar honesty and humility often emerge.

Particularly in the political realm, two adversaries often confess their own culpability for mistakes in that setting. Knee to knee, looking directly into one another’s eyes, it’s difficult not to do so.

But what is also far too easy is to wryly acknowledge to one another that they’ll be leaving the private honesty behind, going in front of a camera and strongly blaming the other — for the consumption of either a fluid constituency or a hard-core base, depending on whether they’re elected only in a district or statewide.

In truth, there probably isn’t more than a scrap of even that bullet-riddled collegiality remaining at present. Hardly anyone wants to get knee-to-knee any longer. Not in politics. Not in any other endeavor or interactive relationship, either.

It’s no good blaming today’s social media or the 24-hour news cycle. Weaponized blame has been deployed far too long for that.

We’ll either become great or return to being great when many more of us start refusing to level blame publicly that we wouldn’t level in exactly the same way face-to-face, in private — where it’s practically impossible not to concede our own failings.

A newspaper editorial from long past posed the question, “What’s wrong with the world?” Theologian G.K. Chesterton answered, “Dear Sirs: I am. Sincerely, G.K. Chesterton.”

In the end, that’s the only way to win the blame game.

Bob Garner is a UNC-TV restaurant reviewer, freelance food writer, author of four cookbooks, barbecue pit master and public speaker.


Bob Garner take a deep look at sincerity and blame through ... pottery. 

Guile or Sincerity? from Bob Garner on Vimeo.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


January 18, 2019

AYDEN — Rudy Robinson was a builder in life.

He built and rebuilt homes. He restored buildings and put businesses in them.

He operated several businesses that brought him and his family financial success. He rented to others, both commercially and residentially. He was adept at it. He worked…


January 16, 2019

Q I form oxalate stones. The only advice I had been given was to drink lots of water and I do drink about a gallon a day. A friend told me I should pay attention to the oxalate content of food. I really like grain products but have been told they might be giving me troubles. What do I need to know?…

Kolasa, Kathy

January 13, 2019

While I have been traveling up and down North Carolina’s roads in search of local eateries, UNC Law School professor Gene Nichol has been traveling the same roads looking for something else.

I was gathering material for my book, “North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries,” and…


January 13, 2019

The first mistake was opening the refrigerator door. I opened it silently, but it emits a silent sound unknown to science that only cats can hear. From under the bedcovers at the other end of the house. And they do not need to walk or run to the refrigerator to inspect what I'm doing. One second,…


January 11, 2019

As I write this review, it’s still up in the air whether Kevin Hart will host this year’s Academy Awards. He was picked because he’s funny, he’s a performer of color, and his star was on the ascendance.

But someone dug up old comments by Hart that were homophobic. The…


January 11, 2019

ARBA — Sybil Thomas is not your average “little old lady.”

Rather than bemoaning the aging process, she has walked right up to it, looked it dead in the eye and given it an impish wink.

Thomas celebrated her 100th birthday Dec. 30, surrounded by friends and family at Hull Road…


January 09, 2019


Q: I don’t think my mom ever used anything other than salt, pepper, and cinnamon to flavor food. She said it was silly and expensive to a container and then use only ¼ teaspoon. I am intrigued by the possibility that some herbs might be helpful in controlling inflammation. Can…

Kolasa, Kathy

January 06, 2019

It was in 1983 that parents told leaders of the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, west of New Orleans, that Father Gilbert Gauthe had molested their sons.

Dominos started falling. The bishop offered secret settlements to nine families — but one refused to remain silent.

The rest is a long,…

Terry Mattingly

January 06, 2019

What really happened to Virginia Dare, the first child of English parents born in the New World? The same Virginia Dare whom I suggested recently belonged on “The World Almanac’s” list of famous North Carolinians.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Sir Walter Raleigh’s…


January 05, 2019

For to make chireseye, tak chiryes at þe feast of Seynt Iohn þe Baptist, & do awey þe stonys …

— Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). New York: for The Early…

121 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 13
        Next Page»   Last Page»