I feel liberated.
As I have said time and time again on this blog: I am very non-confrontational. I don’t write complaint letters. i don’t send my food back when it is under-cooked. I don’t stand up to people when they steamroll all over me in public (or in private, for that matter).
But I keep trying to remember the promise I made to myself on my trip around Cape Horn: be brave. Be brave. Be brave.
And that is why, when I read an opinion piece published in a small newspaper here – an opinion piece that rankled my feathers – I decided to do something about it. I decided to write an opinionated reply.
Now, let me preface by saying that I have never intended The Realist Adjusts the Sails to be a platform for political or social issues. Hot button topics like gay marriage, immigration, universal healthcare, etc… are just too sensitive, and I want this blog to be a chronicle of my own personal journeys with my hobbies.
But this particular step I took today? It felt good. It felt damn good. It felt good to express my opinion, and to explain why I feel as strongly about these issues as I do. And I was proud of myself. Proud of being brave enough to write it. And prouder still for being brave enough to send it in.
So, at the risk of upsetting anyone who comes across this blog post, I am publishing below the letter I wrote to the newspaper in response to an editorial published by a self-identified conservative Republican. In the piece, he argues that liberals do not understand the definition of words like “hate” and that we apply them to the conservatives inappropriately. Furthermore, the editorial author writes that liberals will only allow conservatives to express their opinions if those opinions are in line with the liberals.
And he goes on to comment on the “situation” with gay football player, Michael Sam, and the kiss he shared with his boyfriend when he learned he had been selected for the St. Louis Rams team. The editorial writer does not feel that derogatory comments a fellow football player made about Sam and that kiss (on Twitter no less) should be addressed. The football player in question has been fined, suspended, and sent to sensitivity training in response to the comments he made. But Mr. Editorial here believes that these steps are infringing on the football player’s first amendment rights.
Below is my response.
As one of those who belongs to the – let’s see, how did you call it – tolerant, understanding, forgiving, big tent group,” I feel it is important to offer my politically INcorrect opinion on your thoughts here.
The issue that we liberals take with the conservative Republicans is not that they have their views, but that they expect everyone else to adopt and adhere to those views. It is not simply a game of “I hate gay marriage,” but rather, “I hate gay marriage, so it should not be allowed.” Conservatives try to tell EVERYONE how to live their lives. That the way conservatives live their lives is the RIGHT way to live it. And that’s where the problem comes in.
If Michael Sam had kissed a woman that day, then nobody would have said a word about it. Nobody would have cared. And that is where I take issue. It’s okay for a man and woman to kiss in public? But it’s not okay for two guys to do so? Or two women to do so? You mentioned hypocrisy? It’s right here. If it’s okay for a man and a woman to behave a certain way in front of others, then it needs to be okay for two men and two women to behave that way in front of others too.
At one point, you mention that conservatives are expected to take down their crucifixes or their nativity scenes, etc… But the issue is not that you have those images in public view. The issue is that you don’t let anyone else practice their religious faith in the same way. So yeah, it’s not just that a crucifix is hanging on the wall. That is not the issue. It’s the expectation that everyone has to believe in the crucifix and the religion with which it is associated. That IS the issue. And I say this: if you want a crucifix on the wall, fine. But then you better let the Jews place a menorah, the Muslims hang an Allah medallion, etc…, in the same location. But it’s that second part that is not allowed. Nope. It’s Christianity for all.
And Dan Jones getting punished for making insulting comments is an infringement of free speech? Let me pose this: you have two employees working for you, Mike and Jen. Mike starts making insulting and hateful comments about Jen to others in the office because he doesn’t like her haircut. As the supervisor, would you let Mike get away with this behavior? Is he entitled to say hateful things about Jen’s haircut because he is entitled to free speech?? So, yeah, when people make comments against another person for behaving in a way they didn’t like, then they should be held accountable. It is not free speech to insult another person.
That does not mean, however, that you cannot follow your own views or have your own beliefs. We liberals are not telling you to start believing in gay marriage or abortion or any other social issues (which I will distinguish from political issues below). But don’t tell everyone else they have to give up those beliefs if they have them. You don’t like gay marriage? Fine. You don’t have to get married to another man. You don’t like abortion? Fine, your wife / girlfriend / lover / etc… does not have to get an abortion should you get her pregnant. But you don’t have a right to tell a gay couple they can’t get married, or a pregnant woman carrying a baby that is not yours that she cannot have an abortion. It’s because conservatives do this exact thing that liberals call you hater, and bigot, and racist. Not because you are against gay marriage. Or abortion. But because you try to tell others what they can and cannot do based on YOUR beliefs.
And with all that said, there is a difference between social issues like gay marriage and political issues like immigration and healthcare. Decisions made that affect the populace as a whole, like immigration and healthcare, I am all for everyone expressing their opinions on those decisions. Immigration affects everyone, so if you have an opinion on it, share it. THAT is free speech. And if I have an opinion, I am entitled to share it. That is also free speech. But gay marriage does not affect you. Explain to me how two men getting married is affecting your life. Abortion does not affect you. Explain to me how a woman who aborts an unborn child that is NOT YOURS has an impact on your life. Those are personal lifestyle decisions. And you can have your opinions on them, but don’t tell me that my opinion has to match yours.
A Liberal Democrat