Well, I guess John Henry knew about as much about what they’re calling “cancel culture” these days as just about anyone. Now, John Henry was a story-teller, and most folks liked the stories he told all right. He was a good Methodist boy from outside of Austin, and he knew how to get people interested in a story, even if it never really had any point to it at all, because he just had a nice way of talking that people could relate to.
Not everyone liked everything he said, though. For instance, I guess some people were a little peeved when he said he thought maybe Cuba wasn’t so much worse off under Castro than it had been before, and, if truth be told, maybe most people were doing a smidge better than they had been, and maybe it would be okay if the government did a little more to help people out. After all, he said, the government was sort of like a bus driver, and the people were paying for a smooth ride. If the bus started swerving off in the ditches and everything, well, the people should probably take over and get things back on solid ground.
Well don’t you know that was enough to get people up in arms against poor old John Henry, and they started to call him a communist, and being called a communist was just about enough destroy a person in those days. I can tell you John Henry knew it. He knew people who had taken their own lives after being called a communist and being put on a blacklist.
John Henry was on that same ol’ blacklist, you know. The folks calling themselves AWARE made a blacklist of entertainers they said were communists, and no one on that list could work anymore. These AWARE folks were mean. They were the types who’d put rats in the outhouse just to attract more snakes, and that’s downright unpleasant. Like a lot of people, John Henry lost just about everything, but he didn’t lose his life, because that’s not the kind of person he was. John Henry was a quiet man, but he knew how to fight, yes sir, and he was gonna fight till his last breath.
Thanks to that blacklist, John Henry didn’t have a whole lot of money, anymore, but he found himself a pretty good lawyer by the name of Louis Nizer, and they just sued the pants off those blacklisters for libel. Once the jury heard what those people were doing to honest and hard-working folks like John Henry, they were pretty hot under the collar and didn’t take too long to find that John Henry had done nothing wrong. John Henry won a million dollars in that lawsuit, and those people had to pay two and a half million more just as punishment. At that time, that was the most anyone had ever had to pay for libel, and John Henry and Louis Nizer stopped those blacklisters in their tracks.
So I just wanted to tell y’all about John Henry and how he canceled what was an honest-to-God cancel-culture. Thanks to Mr. Faulk, people can go on telling their stories on the TV and radio and even on the Zoom, you know.