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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

No More Name-Calling From Me


Here's the thing: I'm comfortable being liberal. I think "I'm right." And I think that given a bit of research and a long and thoughtful debate, I'd convince most of you that you'd be better off as a liberal, too. However... I understand that not everybody feels that way. In fact, I understand that some of you reading this probably literally think I am damned and hell-bound for the things I "believe." It saddens me a bit to know this, and I can't really claim to "understand," but I grudgingly accept that this is the way the world works.

Personally, I'm not revolted so much by poverty as I am that the poor are more and more likely to be treated like untouchables. I'm not revolted so much by the rich ruling class as I am that they seem to think it's their right to rule, and the rest of us should be happy, uncomplaining servants. I'm not revolted so much by ignorance as I am that the ignorant insist that intellectuals are "elitists." I'm revolted not so much by the magnitude of some of our problems as I am that many of our problems aren't being solved because the solutions may take away some power or money of a vested interest. Most of all, I'm revolted not so much by people that disagree with me as I am that the disagreement is often so petty and mean-spirited. 

We all delude ourselves about this stuff. All of us - left and right - see our country through rose-colored glasses and think that everything would be fine if "those people" would just be like us. Well, the truth seems to be that the more we're all "like each other" the worse things keep getting. And not only that, but it seems to me from a five-minute cruise through "The Facebook" that the traits we're more and more likely to share are screaming fits of shrillness, our demonizing (sometimes literally!) of those who don't agree with us, and our snotty, mocking, superior tone when we talk about how great "people like us" are. 

But from now on, I refuse to publicly demonize those who disagree with me. Not only am I sick of it, but it doesn't help my arguments one whit. These people are my fellow human beings. I might not like them personally, I might not want to spend time with them, but I'm going to assume that they have hopes and dreams and loved ones just like I do, and even if I personally abhor all they stand for. The United States Supreme Court Justices that passed "Citizens United" are wrong in my opinion, but they're not "Satan." Barack Obama's failure to do some of the things he said he would (try to) do doesn't make him "Hitler." Mitt Romney not releasing his tax forms and spending more money on his wife's horse than most people I know make in ten years doesn't make him a "fascist." Satan is Satan (or would be, if he existed); Hitler was Hitler; fascists are fascists.  

This doesn't mean I'm not going to defend myself if attacked - verbally or physically. Much to my minor embarrassment I recently allowed myself - in a moment of weakness and despair - to be drawn into a ridiculous Facebook "flame war." It was pointless and stupid and a waste of time, but still - I was personally attacked as "sexually retarded" because I happen to think antique guns look cool. I snarled back, then I "unfriended" them. That oughtta change their mind. Good grief, how ridiculous, and what a waste of time. Even to this very moment I respect that person's right to think whatever they want of me, even to the point of sexual retardation, but for Goddess' sake, keep it off a public forum. It doesn't help anybody, people, especially the person doing the yelling.

I'm belabored by the impression that one of this country's ideals is that as long as I'm not hurting somebody else, I ought to be able to do whatever I want. I'll happily extend that to everyone else; in fact, I think everyone else already has that freedom, whether I extend it to them or not. That includes calling me names, since that doesn't hurt me in the slightest; however, it ain't gonna make me think you're right if you call me "sexually retarded" while you're disagreeing with me about whether or not it's "appropriate" to post a photo of an antique pistol on Facebook. (A photo that I didn't even post, by the way! In fact, it made me want to post one...) 

I refuse to cave in to fear, even if it's the fear that my fellow man will banish me from civilization. From now on, I am not going to be embarrassed to say what I think is right and true. If I see dishonesty I will call it out for what it is. If I think somebody is professing a belief or attitude that is not only self-defeating but may hurt others in its process, I'll probably call their behavior "stupid." When it comes to corporate interests (they are not people, I don't care what anyone says) I will be the most rabid attack dog you can imagine, if and when I see them hurting humanity or getting preferred treatment over actual human beings. I am going to have lower and lower tolerance for outright criminal behavior - from purse-snatching all the way to international war crimes - that hurts the person or property of a non-consenting other. But as I read recently, preventing you from oppressing others is not oppressing you

Geez, people, this is as simple as "my-right-to-swing-my-fist-ends-at-your-nose" stuff we all learned in grade school. Healthy debate is the lifeblood of any true democracy, and I'm more than willing to engage in debate as long as we can all behave ourselves. I'm even willing to pre-emptivly admit that in any deep and meaningful debate, emotions are apt to get a thorough stirring, and bile may rise and tempers flare. Right. I got it. Emotional release is as healthy and necessary as the debate itself. But not in public. "You're ugly and your mamma dresses you funny" doesn't help either of our arguments. I'm dropping it. Everybody else should, too.

3 Comments:

Blogger Rich Sands said...

I don't like the term "sexually retarded." From what I hear, you're just sexually special needs.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Rich Sands said...

How dare someone call you "sexually retarded?" The correct term is "sexually developmentally developed." Your welcome.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Lisa Middlebrooks said...

Wiccan Rede: An ye harm none, do as ye will

11:24 AM  

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