First of all, my neck rarely ever turns red | TheUnion.com
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First of all, my neck rarely ever turns red

Jeff Ackerman, Publisher
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

“Get your redneck ass back to Carson City.”

That’s the message I walked into one morning last week. That’s kind of the tone I walk into on most mornings in this business.



Rarely does the phone ring or e-mail ding from someone thanking us for spelling 9,000 words correctly that morning, or for putting their name in the Police Blotter.




This particular e-mail, sent from someone I never met in an otherwise peaceful Nevada City, caught my attention for a number of reasons.

Topping that list was my neck. It’s hardly ever red. In fact, it’s been 15 years since it could be described as anything close to red. I was fishing down in Mexico one winter without sunscreen, and before I could even finish my third cerveza, I was fried. I got so burned, I had to scrape my skin off the tiled floor with a dustpan.

The second concern with the letter is that its author must have flunked Anatomy 101, or he would know that an ass doesn’t have a neck. Therefore, his letter should have read: “Dear Mr. Ackerman” – and, yes, I believe he began his letter with the word “Dear” – “Get your ass back to Carson City, you redneck.”

I assume the letter writer’s definition of red-neck would put me in the company of truck-driving, gun-slinging, beer-drinking, Bible-thumping sons-of-guns who voted for G Dubya and kiss pit bulls.

I don’t drive a truck, and I haven’t slung a gun for a maybe a week. I’ll admit to drinking the beer, and I have been known to thump a Bible from time to time, although never above the pew, where the priest could see.

And maybe I did vote for G Dubya, but I never, ever kissed a pit bull, which is more than I can say for G Dubya’s predecessor, who never passed on a chance to swap spit with anything.

Since I never met the letter writer, I thought it might be good to point out a couple of things, just in case he’s running around telling everyone that I’m a redneck.

There was a strong suggestion in his very brief, but pointed note that if I returned to Carson City I could join other rednecks. For the record, Carson City is no more redneck than Nevada City. In fact, they recently passed a Quality of Life initiative in Carson City, whereby a quarter-cent tax is set aside to buy and preserve open space. Under that process, there is a willing buyer and willing seller. A refreshing switch from the government “taking” of private property that I’ve seen time and again in California. And when they can’t take it, they tie it up so you can’t do anything with it. Then they try to buy it for a nickel.

I also thought I’d point out that I’m a California native, having been born in Beautiful Downtown Burbank and raised in both San Francisco and Marin County. There was a time we probably looked at Nevada County as being redneck country.

We didn’t have many rednecks on Green Street, but across the bridge in San Anselmo I found lots and lots of them. My best friend Frank is a redneck. He lives in a condo in Corte Madera and would like to sell it some day. But the socialist government that has been in place there determines how much Frank can sell it for, so he sits at home polishing his guns and kissing his pit bull.

The e-mail I received from the redneck-phobic probably was stimulated from a column I wrote suggesting that these opponents to the county’s natural heritage plan (known to everyone far and wide as NH 2020) have a right to oppose it and to post signs if they choose. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that political signs are the purest form of free speech, and I believe her.

In a decision titled City of Ladue v. Gilleo (a woman wanted to place a sign in her yard that read “Peace in the Gulf” and the city wouldn’t let her), the high court ruled that,”Displaying a sign from one’s own residence carries a message quite distinct from placing the same sign someplace else, or conveying the same text or picture by other means, for it provides information about the speaker’s identity, an important component of many attempts to persuade.”

The court went on to rule that, “A special respect for individual liberty in the home has long been part of this Nation’s culture and law and has a special resonance when the government seeks to constrain a person’s ability to speak there.”

I’ve recently concluded that signs are overrated. Last week I got five parking tickets in Glenwood Springs, Colo., because I didn’t see the two-hour parking sign. The local Barney Fife amused himself at my expense every two hours.

Finally, I’d like to point out that I have been dragging my redneck ass back to Carson City almost every weekend. My redneck wife and kids are finishing school there and will be joining me here in June, provided we can find a home where the sun will always set on our necks.

Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299,


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