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RAY MOSBY: Paranoia strikes deep with Phil Bryant during Neshoba speech

Ray Mosby is the owner of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork, and is a former winner of the Oliver Emmerich Award for editorial writing in Mississippi.

Ray Mosby is the owner of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork, and is a former winner of the Oliver Emmerich Award for editorial writing in Mississippi.

“Paranoid state: Transient psychotic disorder in which the main element is a delusion, usually persecutory or grandiose in nature.”

—Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life

ROLLING FORK — The Republican cheerleader camp that the fabled Neshoba County Fair has turned into in recent years is usually a lot more noteworthy when there’s an election coming up, but this year’s may go down as the one when the fellow in charge of this state relaxed, let his guard down and allowed a little bit of something either mighty presumptuous or flat crazy to seep out.

I am reminded of an old family story from my mother’s side. Quite a few years ago in a certain Delta county, a certain lady we’ll call Mrs. Smith, a fine old Southern damsel if ever there were such, had tragically lost her husband and at the funeral, consistent with the equally Southern tradition of nosing into the business of others, some concerned soul asked her what might she do in the wake of that loss.

Unnerved, and with stiff upper lip, Mrs. Smith immediately responded that folks need not worry, in that she could “fully lean upon” her son for any and all of her needs. Regrettably, that self-same young man was known by virtually everyone else in that gathered crowd to be a more than slightly addled-brained, shiftless, naer-do-well, unable to adequately take care of himself, much less another.

There was, as the story goes, a brief period of dead silence following her remark, which was then broken (perhaps not surprisingly) by a relative of mine who turned to the dear lady, took her by the hands and (perhaps not surprisingly) said to her: “Mrs. Smith, in that case, I fear you are leaning on a bent stick.”

That story, I related, in order to suggest this: If a certain speech at the Neshoba County Fair from this state’s highest elected official is any gauge, then the fine people of the great and sovereign state of Mississippi, not unlike that poor, long ago lady, just might also be leaning on a bent stick.

No doubt feeling the need to match his most ambitious Lt. Gov., who recited the entire Republican creed the day before, the governor of this state confirmed my long-held suspicion that he doesn’t get many calls for advice from NASA by saying something, that if taken literally, which I do not, would classify him as clinically delusional.

First, Gov. Phil Bryant said that after focusing on education and creating jobs in his first term of office, he will now concentrate on public safety. Fine. Good. I and the rest of the public are wholeheartedly in favor of safety.

But then the governor said something else. Then the governor said that he has a “divine responsibility” to oppose abortion, re-establish prayer in schools and protect gun ownership. And that’s not fine. And that’s not good.

“Divine responsibility,” governor? Really? Do you think yourself anointed by the Almighty to carry out what you perceive to be conservative Christian policies? Have you alone been “divinely” chosen as the one to do so?

Well, sir, if you do, then I have a constitutional responsibility to tell you something: The Blues Brothers were on “a mission from God,” Gov. Bryant. You aren’t. And you shouldn’t be. And if you really think you are, then you just might be a little bit wacky. Kindly see the highly relevant definition above.

Thinking you have a “divine responsibility” is a little bit like thinking you are Napoleon and a whole lot like what a competent psychiatrist would call a messianic complex.

This isn’t about your stated policy priorities, governor, all of which are wildly popular in this state and hence, most courageous of you to champion. But how dare you, sir, claim to fathom the mind of God and how dare you proclaim yourself the agent to carry out His wishes?

There is very little godly in politics, governor, and nothing divine at all in cheap, populist, political theatrics.


» Ray Mosby is the owner of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork, and is a former winner of the Oliver Emmerich Award for editorial writing in Mississippi.


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About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.


  1. Mr. Mosby,

    You may be right that Governor Bryant’s speech was populist political theatrics, but I don’t think you understood his religious references, else you would not have been as quick to mock them. Certainly you gave no evidence that you understood the place they came from, their cultural context. However, those who heard him (or read of his speech), who are regular church goers of a theologically and socially conservative bent; who both believe our nation was established upon a Christian foundation, and that our region and our state…our people have deep and abiding roots in the Christian faith, and therefore who desire that their faith find free expression in our social and governmental institutions did understand what he meant.

    When he said he had a “divine responsibility” he was not saying he had a “blues brothers style “mission” from God. He was saying that as a believing and practicing Christian he recognized that all authority comes from God and that everyone in public office is responsible to God for how they exercise their office. He was saying that God is going to hold him accountable for how he governs this state and he implied thereby that he wanted to acquit himself before his Judge and Maker with a clean conscience. That means he will not support laws or programs that undermine the moral fabric and good order of our society, and that he intends rather to support laws and programs that strengthen and undergird the moral fabric and good order of society as he has the means and opportunity to do so.

    You, for some reason, did not seem to understand this, yet it was crystal clear to me and those like me all across Mississippi. Since Governor Bryant’s frame of reference in touching upon the Biblical themes of authority and governance is familiar to those who have more than a passing acquaintance with the content of Scripture, which you must admit, whether you believe it or not, is a powered and time honored cultural touchstone for Mississippians, perhaps your oversight then is an example of an unfortunate, but correctable illiteracy with respect to our culture and its spiritual font. The only other reasonable explanation that I can come up with is that you in fact did understand, but are so antagonistic towards Governor Bryant’s politics and worldview that you preferred to oppose him by means of caricature and ridicule, but that would be too unkind.


  2. I move to replace Mr. Mosby with Mr. (or Ms.) Hegwood. Do I have a second? Mr. Mosby, I suggest you take your medicine and bow out of this one.

  3. Well said, Mr. Mosby. While Mr. Hegwood makes an impassioned plea for the governor, his bias (and ignorance) shows in his statement “…who both believe our nation was established upon a Christian foundation….) In fact, Mr. Hegwood, this nation was founded by folks who were fleeing from governmental meddling in religion, meddling such as you and the Christian Right are insisting upon now. I am a life-long Christian who tries to practice my faith both inside and outside the church, but I don’t need prayer in my schools nor the Ten Commandments in my courthouse to be that Christian. I am not in favor of abortion, nor am I in favor of the government interjecting itself in medical decisions between my doctor and my wife or daughters. I don’t claim to be “pro-life” while advocating for the death penalty or policies that promote war instead of peaceful negotiation of disputes, nor for unbridled gun ownership that results in thousands of deaths each year.

    I think Mr. Mosby has made the correct diagnosis; this governor (and those who think like him) are suffering from an acute state of paranoia.

  4. Mr. Mosby, I do believe I might just have to hunt you down and kiss you full on the mouth. Hopefully Mrs. Mosby will understand that I just mean it in a “FINALLY! Someone with a lick of sense!” manner, and not come after me :X

  5. Mr Hegwood kept your religion out of my life. I choose not to accept your concept of God or Jesus Christ. Period.

  6. If Phil has the same results with his abortion/prayer/guns agenda as with his stellar record on education and jobs, there is nothing to be concerned about here.

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