Marshall County, Ala., sheriff Mac Holcomb is a no-nonsense lawman who remembers the 1940s and 1950s as a better time than now. He spells his views out on a Web site for all to see.
Don Hunter, an Anniston native who is now a deputy administrator for Marin County, Calif., ran across it and didn't like what he saw--a law officer publicly condemning homosexuality as "an abomination." The sheriff, reflecting on growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, says on the Web site: "Men were men and women were women and there was no mistaking which was which.... Homosexuality was very queer and a despicable act...an abomination."
"It is shocking," said Hunter, who is gay and who wrote the sheriff a letter. "He seems to have a very warped sense of the good old days."
Holcomb told The Birmingham News, which reported on the matter Wednesday, that the Bible condemns homosexuality. He said his political message has been posted in his office since 1995 and he won't disavow it now that it's on the Internet with global reach. "I campaigned on family values, and that is where I stand," he said.
In his written remarks, the 61-year-old sheriff says the 1940s and 1950s were a safer, more respectful, religious time, and he promises "to devote all my energy to do my part to return our society to the values that we once held dear."
"While I would agree with you that we have lost many wonderful things from the 1950s," Hunter wrote to the sheriff, "homophobia, racism, and sexism are not part of the wonderful things. They are ugly now, they were ugly then, and surely they would be ugly in the eyes of Jesus Christ, who taught only love and compassion, never hatred."
Hunter said he recently spent three enjoyable weeks in Marshall County and made a lot of friends. "It renewed my connection to the South, and it reminded me how friendly and kind people are," he said.
Marshall County commission chairman Billy Cannon said the county pays for the Web site but has no authority over the sheriff and would probably need a court order to make him remove his message. He said Holcomb is out of the mold of ousted Alabama chief justice Roy Moore, who has waged court fights for Ten Commandments displays, and Bufford Pusser, the famous Tennessee sheriff depicted in the movie Walking Tall. "Take Rush Limbaugh, Roy Moore, and Bufford Pusser and roll them together, and you get Mac," Cannon said.
He said he regrets that the sheriff posted the comments about homosexuality and feels the sheriff "needs to step down from his soap box just a little bit." But he said Holcomb, a former marine whose office features pictures of Pusser, is firm with prisoners and works hard for the community's safety and
well-being. "In terms of getting the job done, Mac is second to none," he said.