Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Words of counsel in the old style
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   09/22/2000)

Words of counsel in the old style. Thus it is written.
  • To coaches who labor in the orchards of the big orange: Take heed. Travis Henry is thine anointed. Therefore mark this: If it be third down with one yard to go and four minutes only are left in the game, and thou havest the lead and the momentum, thou shalt not call time out and connive a pitch-back to the outside. Rather, thou shalt run Travis Henry up the middle and push thy tired opponents back on their heels forthrightly. When has Travis Henry failed to gain thee a yard or three up the middle? Therefore, if it be third and thou havest inches to go for a touchdown in the mid-portion of the game, thou shalt not try a quarterback sneak, especially if thy quarterback be young and inexperienced. Rather, thou shalt run Travis Henry up the middle forthrightly. Moreover, hearken unto this law from this day forward. If it be third down and thou havest three yards or less to go at any time, thou shalt not pass the ball. Yea, I say again, thou shalt run Travis Henry up the middle forthrightly--two times in a row if called upon--and surely he will pick up the first down. For Travis Henry has labored long in the shadows. Yet surely he is the anointed one and shall leadeth thee into the Promised Land. Thus it is written.

  • To Joseph Lieberman, who would be vice-ruler of all the land: Thus it is written. Thou shalt not speak overly much about thy faith and the wisdom it imparteth to thee, especially in the public square. Rather, it is seemly to find quiet moments to steal away and commune with thy deity. Neither shalt thou sing "I Did It My Way" on late-night TV or wherever more than three are gathered together, for it maketh a mockery of Frank Sinatra. This once shalt thou be forgiven, but nevermore. Thus is it written.

  • To George Bush the Younger: Thou shalt not make pious pronouncements about how compassionate thou art and then smite thine enemy with negative campaign ads, especially when thou hast promised not to do so and hast made a big show of rising above such petty politics. Moreover, thou shalt not run from debating thine adversary, when it is prophesied of old that thou shalt debate surely as the leaves fall in November, for it loseth thee votes needlessly. Thus it is written.

  • To those nay-sayers who were given voice in this very space last week to criticize the scribe who dwelleth here: Thine adversary Al Gore the Younger still reigneth in the land and leadeth in the polls. Hey-nonny-nonny. Thus it is written.

  • To city planners and their paid advisers: Make not a mockery of public spaces. Preserve those squares where commoners and kings mingle. Also those places where prophets, poets, artisans, jesters, scribes and harpers gather to exchange wares and blessings. Likewise, preserve ancient domiciles that have served thy kingdom lo these many years, even as you preserve those which are pleasing to the eye. Erect no barrier which maketh the heart of thy kingdom exclusive of any who dwelleth in the lands thereabouts, especially a child. Yea, proceed humbly, with prayer and much fasting to make better the kingdom for all, given the lights that ye have. Thus it is written.

  • To Pope John Paul II: Many have said in their hearts, 'Our faith is superior to thine. Only Jesus granteth salvation.' Such words were better left unspoken, for unto those of other faiths such sayings are as coals heaped upon their heads. Thus it is written.

  • To the Tennessee Department of Transportation: Make no new roads without the blessings of the inhabitants roundabout. Neither in the land of Townsend, nor in the Kingdom of the Upper East Tennessee, nor in the heart of the campus which dwelleth in the shadow of the most high Neyland Stadium. Neither shalt thou build bridges and four-lane roads from the heart of the main campus to the campus where farmers dwell. For have not the people spoken with a mighty voice and said, "Nay, thou shalt not take away our walking spaces and our parking spaces and our ancient graveyards and our scenic byways for the sake of the publicans." Better ye should use all the kingdom's silver and gold to bring the state budget into better harmony. Thus it is written.

  • To Janet Reno: Yea, thou art brave and stalwart, and I love thee mightily, yet thou behavest at times as an ass. Thou shalt not arrest, lock up and harass an American citizen of Taiwan heritage as a common spy nigh unto a year with much gnashing of teeth and beating of drums, then set him free with a simple plea bargain. Moreover, long has it been uttered in the land that thy handling of Waco was wacko, and that such midnight raids as the one to steal away Elian Gonzalez was better left to centurions in the employ of pharisees. Thus it is written.

  • To any Survivor who eateth rats and insects and conspireth against thy neighbors and thy lovers as well as thy foes and walketh about naked for all to see in exchange for outrageous fame and fortune: Get thee away from the one-eyed monster. Yea, get thee away already and pay penance for thy sins. Yea, get thee to a nunnery or a monastery, or some far island where no camera may follow, for, lo, we grow weary of thee. Thus it is written.