Several readers have asked if a rumor going around that I “punched someone out” is true.

Not really. Someone I don’t know approached me on the street in Floyd as I was leaving Blue Ridge Restaurant last week and got in my face about a recent article about the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.

“I’m sick and tired of you slandering patriotic Americans,” he said. “It’s time somebody kicked your ass.”

I told him I had an opinion and he was welcome to his and turned to walk away. That’s when he took a swing. I ducked and his fist struck my shoulder. I hit him once, on the side of the jaw, with the palm of my hand. He went down, spit out a tooth, and uttered something obscene before getting up and walking way, holding his jaw.

Several people saw the incident and said they would confirm he started the altercation.

It’s not the first time someone has threatened me or thrown a punch. I’m a peaceful man who doesn’t start fights.

But I know how to end them.