Barry Saunders

If you’re saying bad things, don’t hide behind a fake Twitter name – Saunders

James Sauls, Raleigh’s economic development manager, made some offensive comments on Twitter under the name ‘HotRodEarl.’
James Sauls, Raleigh’s economic development manager, made some offensive comments on Twitter under the name ‘HotRodEarl.’

Whatsoever a man doeth in the dark, it shall be brung forth into the light.

I learned that biblical proverb not in Bible college, which I attended for one week before realizing that I didn’t have the right stuff to be a preacher, but in regular college one night.

I was seated in the back of an auditorium on the Spelman College campus where students from Morehouse and Spelman colleges were preparing to watch a movie.

When one female student walked in front of the screen, I – emboldened both by the anonymity of darkness and a swig or seven of Richard’s Wild Irish Rose wine – yelled “Down in front.”

The room went quiet as she shot back, “Shut up. You don’t have any business over here anyway, Barry.”


The ouch became even more pronounced when my buddies and everyone else laughed “Ha ha, Barry. She told you.”

How’d they know it was me in the dark?

Turns out that my Rockingham-ish accent stood out. It’s been 38 years since that happened, and when I think about it, I still sometimes go “UGH!” in the night – embarrassed by being called out and for being such a jerk.

In the years since, though, I have tried to never do or say anything in the dark that I wouldn’t say in the middle of Capital Boulevard at noon.

Twitter twerps who keep messing up their lives on the social media site would be well-advised to adhere to the same rule. For instance, ask James Sauls, Raleigh’s economic development manager, if he wishes he’d refrained from opening a ghost Twitter account on which he demeaned and ridiculed state leaders.

“Boy, do I!” I’ll bet you he says before you get past “Do you ...”

Sauls, tweeting as HotRodEarl, urged former Gov. Pat McCrory to take his donkey back to Ohio – What, he wasn’t referring to a donkey? – and lambasted powerful state representative Phil Berger as “a piece of (excrement).”

That’s a horrible thing to say about anyone, but it shows execrable judgment to antagonize – even anonymously – a legislator who already regards N.C. urban areas with the same affection that a snail has for an overturned salt shaker.

If I could find that girl – now woman – who put me in my place, I’d apologize, and it wouldn’t be one of those namby-pamby, perfunctory apologies such as the one Sauls issued after being busted.

The Spook of Earl, while still tweeting as HotRodEarl on Friday, wrote, “I would like to take a moment and apologize to any and all that may have been affected by past tweets from my personal twitter account.”

Man, that equivocating mess ain’t no apology. Who cares if it was your personal account?

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen had one hit song that I can remember. It was called “Hot Rod Lincoln” and was about a dude with a lead foot. It contained the Shakespearean line, “My pappy said ‘Son, you’re gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop drivin’ that hot rod Lincoln.”

Sauls’ equally concerned padre may want to serenade him thusly: “Son, you’re gonna drive me to hurl if you don’t stop tweeting as HotRodEarl.”

Or how about “Son, you’d have to be nutty as a squirrel/ if you keep tweeting as ...” heck, as anyone.

Barry Saunders: 919-836-2811, @BarrySaunders9