Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Throwing Good Money After Bad

Posted in Legal Issues, Memory by Andy Hall on June 2, 2013

scA few weeks ago, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond declined to reinstate the lawsuit of Candice Hardwick, the former Latta, South Carolina high school student who spent years, starting in middle school, trying to get herself suspended for wearing Confederate flag t-shirts with captions like “Daddy’s Little Redneck” and “Southern Chick.” Another shirt in her wardrobe apparently featured that fraudulent “Louisiana Native Guards” image. There’s a good story providing the background of this seven-year-old case here.

As a practical matter, the Fourth Circuit’s ruling probably should have been the end of this case, but now the odious Kirk Lyons is soliciting $5,000 in donations to “help Candice get to the Supreme Court.” Lyons is certainly welcome to ask for money, and folks are welcome to contribute if they desire, but I do think Lyons should have been a bit more forthcoming in explaining the history of the case, and the likelihood of it getting a hearing before the Supremes.

In the first place, getting “cert,” as the saying goes, is a real longshot in almost any case. In any given term, the court is asked to hear thousands upon thousands of cases, but  actually accepts only a few dozen — usually less than 1% of the total. There are exceptions, of course, when there are very fundamental and profound legislative questions at hand — the Affordable Healthcare Act and the Defense of Marriage Act are two of recent memory — but generally, the Supremes don’t take cases unless there are conflicting rulings at the lower court level, or the justices — specifically, any four of the nine — deem that the issues raised by the case are worth revisiting. I don’t think that latter circumstance is likely, particularly given that they will likely see this case as not about the Confederate flag per se, but about the broader authority of schools to regulate students’ speech or expression. The most important recent ruling on that subject, Morse v. Frederick (2007), is actually more recent than Hardwick’s original lawsuit, and at 6-3, wasn’t even a close decision. The six justices who voted against the student in that case (Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Kennedy, Breyer and Thomas) all remain on the bench.

Precedent aside, there’s also little other reason to expect Hardwick’s case to get a hearing at the Supreme Court. Best as I can tell, Hardwick’s has only been tried on its merits once, and she lost; everything else in the last seven years has been a round-robin of dismissals and appeals of said dismissals at the appellate level. There’s no particular reason to believe that four justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will see value in committing its resources to hearing a case that lower federal courts have deemed unworthy of their time.

Lyons really ought to be more forthright with prospective donors about the prospects in this case. The fiery rhetoric of his solicitation is calculated to inspire his supporters to open their wallets — “rotten & dishonest school tyranny,” “chicanery, hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty of the 4th Circuit US Court of Appeals,” and so on — but it’s crafted to appeal to raw emotion, rather than than to cold reason. As is so often the case with “heritage” lawsuits, it’s woefully short on specific details that reflect the actual prospects of the case, or the legal framework within which arguments will be made. The odds against Hardwick’s case even being heard are extremely long, but Lyons’ appeal for cash makes it sound like it’s just a matter of raising the scratch. It’s not.

As I say, people are welcome to contribute if they want, but they should do so only with a clear vision of the return they’re likely to get on their investment.

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H. K. Edgerton to Seek Presidential Pardon for Ron Wilson

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on December 3, 2012

http://deadconfederates.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/hardwickedgerton.jpg?w=720

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Much to my happy surprise, H. K. Edgerton responded to my recent post about Ron Wilson. He’s going to be requesting a presidential pardon for South Carolina con-man, because, um, too many people hold high regard for Abraham Lincoln, or something:

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I am deeply grieved about what happened to the Honorable Ron Wilson and to those who were hurt by his actions. And I pray for them and for Ron equally. There are not many men who have not made serious mistakes in their lives. I shall never falter in my love and respect for Mr. Wilson, and shall never see him as a racist, or the other unkind things that take away from the content of his character that shall always deem him to be an Honorable man. If one chooses to make an Honorable man of Abraham Lincoln, then one should choose to seek a Presidential Pardon for Ron, and one for young Candice Yvonna Hardwick that I have already asked him for. And I care less about the unkind words spoken here about me. Christ and General Nathan Bedford Forrest had to endure worst.

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HardwickFor those who don’t know, Candice Hardwick (above and right, via Mugshots.com) is a young woman from Latta, South Carolina. In 2006 she was suspended twice from school for wearing a Confederate flag shirt. She sued, and her case became a cause celebré among heritage groups. Just a few months ago, Edgerton participated in a ceremony presenting Hardwick with a medal for her heritage activities. Nonetheless, her case was dismissed in March and three months later, in June, she burglarized a home in Latta and stole eight firearms. In August she was sentenced to six years in prison, but will likely be out in three.

Hardwick’s story is a sad one, and I’m not unsympathetic to it, but it’s not one that represents a gross miscarriage of justice. There are lots of people serving longer sentences, for lesser crimes, than either Hardwick or Wilson. And the notion that Ron Wilson is “an Honorable man” who simply made a “serious mistake” that should not reflect on “the content of his character” is one of the more preposterous things Mr. Edgerton has said over the years.

As to the “unkind words spoken here” about Mr. Edgerton, it’s actually more serious than that. I’ve directly challenged claims made by Edgerton and others that his organization, Southern Heritage 411, actually holds non-profit status, or that contributions to it are tax-deductible. I can find no evidence that either of these things are true. I’m no lawyer, but I can’t help but think that if Southern Heritage 411 is, in fact, the for-profit corporation that it claimed to be in filings with the Georgia Secretary of State, Mr. Edgerton has made a very “serious mistake” of his own.

As always, of course, Mr. Edgerton is welcome to provide documentation that I’ve got this non-profit stuff all wrong. But I don’t think I do.

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Why is H. K. Edgerton Claiming Non-Profit Status?

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on October 14, 2012

Looks like some of the folks over at SHPG are questioning H. K. Edgerton’s stated appearance fee of $20,000. There seems to be some dispute over how much he actually collects, but twenty grand (plus mileage) is what he claims his services are worth. I happen to think it’s a pretty ridiculous amount for what he does, but that’s my opinion; you may feel otherwise. The bottom line is, Edgerton can ask for whatever he wants.

The far more important question, that his friends and supporters haven’t yet addressed, is why Edgerton continues to claim Southern Heritage 411 is a non-profit organization, and solicit donations with the claim that such contributions are tax-deductible:

To those of you who would like to make a tax deductible contribution to a non- profit organization and support H.K. Edgerton now, please make your checks payable to: Southern Heritage 411 and send it to:’
 
Southern Heritage 411, Inc.
P O Box 220
Odum GA 31555-0220
 
Dewey Barber
Owner, Dixie Outfitters
 

Neither of those things appear to be true now, or ever. I’m no attorney, but I have to think there are very serious legal ramifications in this for both Edgerton, who was listed as Chief Financial Officer for the for-profit company as late as 2010, and for Dewey Barber of Dixie Outfitters, who is the actual CEO and owner of the business, if the IRS ever takes an interest in this stuff.

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Black Confederates, A Subsidiary of Dixie Outfitters

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 9, 2012

Update, August 10: Near the end of this post, I wrote that “as far as I can tell, neither Barber nor Edgerton have ever explicitly claimed Heritage 411 to be a non-profit organization.”

I was wrong. They claim both non-profit status and that donations to Southern Heritage 411 are tax-deductable for donors:

To those of you who would like to make a tax deductible contribution to a non- profit organization and support H.K. Edgerton now, please make your checks payable to: Southern Heritage 411 and send it to:’
 
Southern Heritage 411, Inc.
P O Box 220
Odum GA 31555-0220
 
Dewey Barber
Owner, Dixie Outfitters
 
 

Judging from the Internet Way-back machine, this claim has been posted on the Heritage 411 website since (at least) July 2008, more than four years ago.

Kevin has made a couple of posts recently poking fun at H. K. Edgerton, and his frequent display (when not in Confederate uniform) of different shirts sold by Dixie Outfitters, frequently one with his own image emblazoned upon it. But there’s a method to this, and Edgerton’s sartorial choices need to be understood in the context of his business relationship with Dixie Outfitters. Southern Heritage 411 is a for-profit corporation, registered as such with Georgia Secretary of State from 2006 to 2010, when its license was dissolved because the company repeatedly failed to file its required annual re-registration. Although it is sometimes described as a non-for-profit organization (e.g., on Clint Lacy’s blog), and Edgerton solicits donations constantly, Heritage 411 has never been registered as such with the IRS or any state agency that I can find.

Did you ever wonder why Southern Heritage 411 is located in Georgia, when Edgerton lives 300+ miles away in North Carolina? Turns out, that’s easy — because Southern Heritage 411 is run by Dewey Barber, not H. K. Edgerton.


Dewey Barber, H. K. Edgerton and musician Terry Warren, via TerryWarren.net.
 

The Heritage 411 website is scattered with praise for Dixie Outfitters owner Dewey Barber, and an acknowledgment of Barber’s support for Edgerton (e.g., “HK’s main benefactor is Dewey Barber, who uses HK to sell merchandise from his business Dixie Outfitters“). But in fact, Edgerton is (or at least was, until 2010) effectively Barber’s employee, a junior officer in the company reporting to Barber, who has always been the primary contact for Heritage 411, and from 2007 t0 2010, was the CEO as well. The core truth, as outlined in official filings made by Heritage 411 in Georgia (accessible at the link above) is that Southern Heritage 411 is a for-profit business, run by Dewey Barber, with H. K. Edgerton as the public face of that business. It’s a deeply cynical arrangement, one that takes commercial advantage of Edgerton’s popularity among Confederate Heritage™ groups who embrace Edgerton and his theatrics as a sort of vaccination against being accused of some of the uglier attitudes and beliefs commonly associated with the Confederate flag. Barber’s Heritage 411 operation is, at its most benign interpretation, a sort of under-the-radar marketing enterprise, firing up the True Southrons and encouraging them to (not coincidentally) purchase Dixie Outfitters’ merchandise. It probably brings a good return on investment, too, given the effectiveness of a popular and high-profile representative like Edgerton.


Edgerton with (r.) Clint Lacy, whose blog, “Across Our Confederation,” falsely describes Southern Heritage 411 as a “non for profit resource.” Image via the John T. Coffee SCV Camp No. 1934.
 

As far as I can tell, neither Barber nor Edgerton have ever explicitly claimed Heritage 411 to be a non-profit organization, but they do seem perfectly content to let people believe they are, and to let others make that claim on their behalf. And Heritage 411 sure makes itself sound like a charitable organization. There’s nothing illegal about soliciting “donations” to a for-profit business like Heritage 411, but I’ll leave it for others to decide how ethical it is, given Edgerton’s continual solicitation of donations — he routinely appends an address for PayPal payments to his e-mails — and presenting himself as a lone voice, a committed and uncomplicated individual fighting the good fight for Southern Heritage™, without mentioning his formal business and legally-binding links to one of the best-known vendors of Confederate-themed merchandise in the country. I suspect there are a lot of folks, taken in by Edgerton’s apparent sincerity, who’ve donated money to Heritage 411 — money they may have been hard-pressed to give — thinking that they’re donating to a non-profit enterprise, when in fact Southern Heritage 411 is just another branch of the Dixie Outfitters’ marketing outreach.
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Do (Ever-Higher) Fences Make Good Neighbors?

Posted in African Americans, Leadership, Memory by Andy Hall on September 26, 2011

Some folks may recall the case last year in South Carolina where Annie Chambers Caddell moved into a historically African American neighborhood, and put a Confederate flag on the front of her house. Her neighborhood’s origins go back to the close of the Civil War, when the area was settled by several former members of the 1st USCT, who’d been stationed there at the end of their military service. Caddell, who is white, argued she was honoring her Confederate ancestors; her neighbors, not surprisingly, see the flag as a symbol of something else entirely.

Inevitably there were protests against Caddell, and counter-protests in response (above). It got worse; someone reportedly threw a rock through Caddell’s front window. There has been inflammatory, over-the-top rhetoric on both sides. Not surprisingly, both sides have chosen to escalate the dispute.

Earlier this year, two solid 8-foot high wooden fences were built on either side of Annie Chambers Caddell’s modest brick house to shield the Southern banner from view.

Late this summer, Caddell raised a flagpole higher than the fences to display the flag. Then a similar pole with an American flag was placed across the fence in the yard of neighbor Patterson James, who is black. . . .

“I’m here to stay. I didn’t back down and because I didn’t cower the neighbors say I’m the lady who loves her flag and loves her heritage,” said the 51-year old Caddell who moved into the historically black Brownsville neighborhood in the summer of 2010. Her ancestors fought for the Confederacy.

Last October, about 70 people marched in the street and sang civil rights songs to protest the flag, while about 30 others stood in Caddell’s yard waving the Confederate flag.

Opponents of the flag earlier gathered 200 names on a protest petition and took their case to a town council meeting where Caddell tearfully testified that she’s not a racist. Local officials have said she has the right to fly the flag, while her neighbors have the right to protest. And build fences.

“Things seemed to quiet down and then the fences started,” Caddell said. “I didn’t know anything about it until they were putting down the postholes and threw it together in less than a day.”

Aaron Brown, the town councilman whose district includes Brownsville, said neighbors raised money for the fences.

“The community met and talked about the situation,” he said. “Somebody suggested that what we should do is just go ahead and put the fences up and that way somebody would have to stand directly in front of the house to see the flag and that would mediate the flag’s influence.”

Caddell isn’t bothered by the fences and said they even seem to draw more attention to her house.

“People driving by here because of the privacy fences, they tend to slow down,” she said. “If the objective was to block my house from view, they didn’t succeed very well.”

You can see where this is going; by this time next year, one side or the other will have put up a big-ass flag.

More seriously, this is just headache-inducing. The only people benefiting from this rancorous business are flagpole installers and the local lumber yard.

I don’t know what the answer here is. Caddell has a right to display her flag; her neighbors have a right to make their objection to it clear. But neither benefits from continually upping the ante, nor does it help to bring in outside groups and activists to use this case to fight a larger proxy battle for historical memory, as recently happened in Lexington. That only serves to harden the resolve of all concerned, by raising the purported stakes beyond what they actually are. I hope Caddell and her neighbors eventually come to some sort of resolution in this business. But that doesn’t seem likely anytime soon, so long as all parties insist on following the tired script of action and reaction, and insist on having others fight their rhetorical battles instead of talking to each other like responsible grown-ups.

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Image (Original Caption): Brownsville Community resident Tim Hudson (right) tells H.K. Edgerton of Ridgeville he looks “ridiculous” in his Confederate uniform as he stands with outside the home of Annie Chambers Caddell Saturday, October 16, 2010. Brownsville community members marched past Caddell’s home to protest her flying of the confederate flag outside her home in the predominantly black neighborhood. Hudson was not a marcher in the protest group. Photo by Alan Hawes, postandcourier.com.

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