It’s been a year since my fund-raising campaign. Some readers probably remember Frank Friedrich Kling offering to match donations up to $2,500. The target was met within a few days, with my profound thanks. I’ve written to Mr. Kling a few times, and initially I expected him to pony up the promised $2,500. In yet another example that my idealism is often misguided, Mr. Kling has reneged. I no longer expect him to cough up the money, but I still write him every now and then. I like to afflict the comfortable.
Lest this short essay elicit unwanted response, I’m focusing on the principle. Or, rather, the lack of principles demonstrated by a couple of men. Financially, I’ll be fine, and I’m not using this essay to ask for money.
Mr. Kling was one of two memorable wealthy men I’ve encountered in my travels. The other, a cardiologist from Australia by the name of Dr. Geoffrey Chia, paid for my flight to San Francisco many months ago. We talked for an hour or two, and I returned to Tucson without even stepping outside the airport in San Francisco. Dr. Chia wanted me to oversee the development of his homestead on an Australian island. He figured my academic credentials would attract other academic friends of his. I declined, after considerable thought. I do not know the status of the homesteading project.
Dr. Chia used to write essays in this space. In one of them, he libeled Mr. Kling. I pointed out the error and asked for an apology from Dr. Chia, and he obliged. I don’t visit the Doomstead Diner, or many other websites, but apparently Dr. Chia is busily trashing my name in that space while blaming me for his libel. Apparently wealthy men are not to blame for their own words.
My point — and I do have one — is to illustrate the behavior of people who ought to know better. Genteel upbringing and the privileges attendant to monetary riches don’t guarantee an outcome fittingly called gentle, manly, or gentlemanly.
John B. McLemore was a friend of mine, although we never met. Perhaps Mr. Kling and Dr. Chia would’ve remained friends, had we not met.
John McLemore called me on the telephone every week or two. By his account, he was living in Little Shittown, Alabama. And although he was poor, he sent money in support of my work. He didn’t care for Mr. Kling, based strictly on the latter’s online persona. If he had an opinion about Dr. Chia, he didn’t reveal it to me.
Each time John sent money, he’d write a short note: “Make sure the old coot pays up.” John wanted my assurance that Mr. Kling would match his donation, as promised.
A few attentive readers might remember John’s essay, “Death of a Giant.” It was a fine and sad story about the death of one of the dogs John took into his care. John was caring for his ailing mother, along with a plethora of dogs. He knew about hospice. Based on my conversations with him, John was kind and compassionate. Small wonder he didn’t quite fit into this culture, as he mentioned repeatedly to me.
John’s essay was excellent. Indeed, a publisher asked me to contact him within minutes of its posting in this space. The publisher wanted to include the essay within a forthcoming collection. The next day, John asked me to remove his essay because he was upset by the ignorant and hateful comments so typical of this website. Like the rest of us, John was fragile.
I wondered why John hadn’t been responding to my email messages lately. He died last June at the age of 49 years.
With the death of John B. McLemore, the world lost a good man. I’d like to believe examples are useful, and the positive ones will be followed by others. But today I’m not at all sure such an assertion is supported by evidence.
I was interviewed 2 February 2016 by Gary Null of the Progressive Radio Network. The show is described and embedded here.
On the topic of monetary wealth, David Suzuki mentions me without saying my name in an interview with Rolling Stone published 2 February 2016. The multimillionaire and five-time father is a fan of hope (i.e., wishful thinking).
Ivey Cone interviewed McPherson for Episode 44 of Extinction Radio, which aired 22 January 2016. It’s embedded below.