If there’s anything that an election year brings out in Americans, it’s fanaticism. REPUBLICAN! DEMOCRAT! CONSERVATIVE! LIBERAL! BLACK! WHITE! HISPANIC! MALE! FEMALE! HETEROSEXUAL! HOMOSEXUAL! UPPER CLASS! MIDDLE CLASS! LOWER CLASS! PUBLIC EDUCATION! SCHOOL VOUCHERS! ROE! WADE! FREE TRADE! IMMIGRATION! DRILL FOR OIL! NUKE THE ARABS! SAVE THE PLANET! SAVE SOCIAL SECURITY! SAVE OUR JOBS! EQUAL WAGES FOR WOMEN! SAVE OUR BOTTOM LINE!
It’s pretty comical to listen to how vehemently people talk about whatever their number one issue is. “If you don’t believe how I believe then you are bigoted, stupid, a sinner, a bible-thumper and a drain on this country.”
It truly seems like everyone is of the opinion that the world believes, or at least should believe, as they do and having a different opinion/belief is the mark of mental retardation. When did we all become so self-focused that we forgot the core attribute of free speech…differing opinions? Now please don’t think I believe we’ve EVER had free speech, but it seems that we’re now using arguments for free speech to denounce the free speech of others…it’s like “Who’s On First” on crack. People are free to agree with me or disagree, love me or hate me, want me in their life, neighborhood, school, company, church or want me out of it. Those are freedoms we all have and when we accept that everyone has those freedoms, the shit hits the fan.
“You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil who is standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours…Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the ‘land of the free.'”
– Michael Douglas playing President Andrew Shepherd in The American President (1995)
Now here is the really hard part of free speech. The same people that make your blood boil and you believe to be ignorant, blind, or retarded ARE YOUR EQUALS. They are humans, Americans, and citizens entitled to all the same rights that you have and cherish. If you can listen to Insane Clown Posse, they can listen to Kenny Chesney. If you can worship at your local church, they can belong to an online Satanic cult. If you can televise Skateboarding, And-1 basketball, and Frisbee Golf, then they can televise log-rolling, tractor pulls, and rodeo bull-riding. If you can believe in a monogamous, missionary-only sex life, they can be promiscuous swingers who engage in everything from urination to furries. And yet again, these people ARE YOUR EQUALS. They are entitled to every right that you have. Doesn’t that just sound like a simple, liberal, moral, and high character way to live and govern?
Where we run into problems is elections…we have two dominant political parties that are trying to take sides that represent a paradigm on every public policy issue. What makes matters worse is because there are only two parties, they feel the need to take opposing sides on most everything. In truth, while there are multiple ways to address most issues, the method that best serves as progressive and diverse a country as ours requires more positions than the two dominant ones that rule our politics. Folks, we need to do better about making sure our positions are represented. If anything, I suggest we become more fanatical…but we also have to become less arrogant…our strengths are not our self-interests, they’re in all of our interests.
© 2012 His-Stor-E