Is any of this worth violence?
By DAVID ROSS
Arguing over trivia. And it’s all trivia.
When my side wins elections, the people have spoken. When your side wins, the people were duped.
I love to argue. I have always enjoyed the cut and thrust of political argument, which is how people who use their brains help to formulate their philosophy, policy views and learn to present their opinions in a logical fashion.
But shoot people over it? Burn cars? That’s how people who are incapable of using their brains present political arguments. It is, however, also how a growing segment of our contentious society engages in political “discourse.”
Sure, it’s churlish for a public theater in New York to stage a version of “Julius Caesar” in which Caesar is played by an actor obviously meant to be Donald Trump—and who is bloodily murdered on stage. But is it worth some fuddy duddy leaping on stage to interrupt a show that people have paid good money to see? Nah! That’s not conservatism fighting for its beliefs. That’s a would be right winger, or more likely a blind supporter of Trump adopting the tactics of the intolerant left.
Do I feel like getting a black eye over who is allowed into the ladies’ room? No, I really can’t get worked up over it. Although I do get a little creeped out when I’m in the men’s room and occasionally a father brings in his toddler daughter because, well, there’s no other way to do it. I make myself scarce right quick.
Do I think that bakers have the right to refuse to bake cakes for gay weddings if that happens to violate their own conscience? Yep. Am I willing to resort to fisticuffs to prove my point? Do I want to throw mazel tov cocktails to protest Jewish Gay Weddings? I think not.
Even on the question of gun rights, I’m not one of those who will give up my gun when they pry it out of my cold dead hands. I’ll move to Texas first, which, come to think of it, is almost as bad.
If I had been living in the Union back at the beginning of the Civil War, I probably would have followed the example of Mark Twain and his brother who “lit out for the territory,” because they didn’t want to get shot up over the question of slavery. Sure, slavery was evil. Sure, it should have been encouraged to wither and die. But would I have taken the chance of dying to end it? I doubt it.
As strong as my opinions are, I’m always willing to listen to the other side expound their point of view. I demand the same respect in return. If you can engage me in a debate without resorting to the words “fascist” or “Nazi” when you hear something you disagree with, you win the bonus prize. For my part, I promise not to use “commie” or “socialist.”
In fact, there is ONLY one thing on which I am steadfastly intolerant—and that is intolerance. I will not tolerate people who do not permit me or others to express our point of view. And no, yelling in my face or preventing me from speaking, or disrupting a meeting is not a form of free speech.
I tolerate all religions, but I draw the line at keeping my thoughts to myself because they might offend a religion that demands that no one offends its adherents.
We conservatives have always felt a little elevated over the left because, for the most part, we walk the walk of tolerating opposing beliefs. It didn’t used to be that way. In the 1950s and 1960s the conservatives were more intolerant of contrary opinions. They were willing to send people to jail for burning the American flag, an opinion that many conservatives today continue to hold.
Not me. I may hold in contempt anyone who actually does burn Old Glory, but I won’t lift a finger to stop them. Ironic, isn’t it, that the emblem of our freedoms must occasionally be sacrificed on the altar of freedom.
It was the hippies and the Free Speech Movement that urged the tolerance of all forms of expression. So, how strange is it that the intellectual descendants of those who fought for free speech fifty years ago are now comfortable overturning cars, inflicting concussions and threatening those they oppose?
I’m such a non-violent guy that I WON’T defend to the death your right to be wrong. On the other hand, if you don’t leggo my Eggo, you WILL pull back a bloody stump. There are limits.