Columnist

Dave Molter is a freelance writer and Golden Quill and Keystone Press Awards winner. He also is a freelance musician in the Pittsburgh area.

It’s the story of a man named Brady.

Well ... it’s only peripherally about a man named Brady, which you will see.

Back when I used to be a reporter for this newspaper, I thought it would be cool to write a feature story about a man named Brady. And my clever “lead” (first sentence) would be the opening you see above.

But I never found a man named Brady to write about.

Well, actually, I did find a man named Brady. But that was 8 years before I became a reporter, when I managed a bookstore and had not yet begun writing. He was the brother of a co-worker, and she said Brady loved to read cookbooks in bed. This fact made me connect Brady with Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter, the main character of “Red Dragon,” which just had been published in 1981.

Brady came into the store once and did, indeed, head straight to the cooking section at the front. I met him. Shook hands. He seemed nice. But I decided I might be safer at the back of the store, in the religion section. But there I found the Satanic Bible and the Christian Bible shelved side by side. This was even more disconcerting than the possible cannibal up front reading “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook” – the ring-bound edition, which would have made it easy for Brady to add his own “special” recipes involving liver, fava beans and Chianti. Maybe that’s why, to this day, I shun church picnics. At least Christian ones – they probably don’t serve deviled eggs.

By the time I became a reporter, Brady had passed on, so I couldn’t write a feature about him. And I never found another man named Brady.

I wish I had. It would have been great to use that opening sentence. Maybe in a story about a man who thinks being asked to wear a medical mask to a grocery store constitutes a violation of his “personal freedoms.”

“It’s the story of a man named Brady

Who was busy with three boys of his own

But he got arrested down at Giant Eagle

So they were all alone.”

Answer me this: What exactly are “personal freedoms?” I have heard beliefs expressed in various forms in these lazy, hazy, crazy days of bummer.

  • “I ain’t got to wear no stinking face mask!”
  • “I need a haircut or I will die!”
  • “I need to go to a political rally and not be forced to wear a mask because COVID-19 is a hoax devised by the far-left liberal elite to make me look weak. But I’ll sign the waiver anyway.”

I don’t buy any of those.

The definition I like best is from the British writer Victor Gollancz, whose pamphlet, “The Meaning of Freedom,” was first published in England in 1956. Gollancz wrote:

“What is personal freedom? The really important thing to start with is this: personal freedom is essentially an inner thing; something inside a man; the presence of something in a man’s personality, not the absence of constraint from without. This inwardness is the essence of personal freedom, and we get nowhere until we recognize the fact.”

Here’s my advice to those who think wearing a face mask is a violation of their “personal freedoms”: Wear one and “own the liberals” by sticking your tongue out at them the whole time beneath it.

It’s what Brady would do.

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