Column: Disagree, but please keep it civil
I have many liberal friends. They tolerate my conservative Constitutional views and I tolerate their more progressive views.
My good friend Lou and I play golf frequently. When I drive my ball to the right from the tee, Lou will tell me that I hit a nice "Gingrich" ball. When Lou hits one to the left, I'll say, "Nice Clinton ball." If he hits way left, I'll tell him it's a Pelosi ball.
The thing is, we can talk a little politics, hear each others views, argue our points, ask pointed questions and not get upset, use profanity (well, not much, we are on the golf course, after all), or denigrate the others' views. Lou studies issues and I respect his view, although I think it is wrong most of the time. Lou thinks I'm wrong most of the time, but he's wrong about that.
Lou also does my income taxes. I know him to be honest, ethical and have a great sense of humor. He volunteers much of his time. I respect him as a man and an American. The point is that you can be friends with people of opposing views. It's called tolerance. It doesn't mean that you accept the other person's ideas, but you believe he has a right to his own views.
Intolerance can be described as hearing or seeing an opposing view and attempting to destroy the person who expressed it by attacking their person, character, livelihood or property. If you physically attack a person or damage or destroy their property, you are committing a crime and could wind up in jail, which is where you would belong. A more insidious and cowardly way of showing one's intolerance toward someone with an opposing position is to impugn his or her character or try to ruin his or her livelihood.
There are many different ways to show one's disagreement with a view that has been expressed. If the opinion expressed is verbal, a mere shrug of the shoulders and a statement, "Well, I disagree with that," will usually suffice to change the subject or end the conversation. By articulating your own opinion, you demonstrate that you don't accept the other person's view without showing disrespect for it.
If an article, column or opinion is presented that chaps your hide, write a letter to the editor or go online and give your own views there. If you don't like the bumper sticker that says, COEXIST, get one printed that states, "How do you COEXIST with people who want to cut your head off?"
The great thing about freedom of speech is that it gives everyone the right to give their side of any issue. It also gives everyone the ability to see all sides of issues and decide which position is the most rational. The Internet has expanded this ability exponentially. The downside of the Internet is that it also lends itself to activities like cyber bullying and scurrilous attacks on character and/or attempts to destroy one's livelihood. The radical left uses it and other tools in their social networking toolbox, not to air their disagreements with people, but to punish them for having an opposing view.
Last week, Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich was forced to quit after some gay activists demanded that he resign or renounce his support of traditional marriage laws. He gave $1,000 in 2008 for Proposition 8 that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. The only reason to do this is to punish Brendan Eich for having an opinion these so-called activists think is wrong and to frighten others with the same opinion from expressing or supporting their own views.
This isn't just an isolated case. In fact, a similar incident happen a few short years ago, right here in Prescott. One of our local, highly respected physicians, agreed to see another doctor's patient while that doctor was out of town. In this physician's business office, this patient saw a photoshopped picture of President Obama that pictured him as a witch doctor, with the words "ObamaCare" underneath. This patient chose to see this picture as racist rather than political satire about Obamacare. A similar witch doctor picture of George W. Bush made the rounds when he was president. I doubt if this patient ever squeeked the mildest protest at that photo or the many derogatory pictures, statements and cartoons of Condoleezza Rice or Clarence Thomas that might be construed as racist.
Without discussing race, Obamacare or any other issue with this doctor, who as a favor consented to see the patient, this patient started a smear campaign through social media. The doctor was identified and attacked as a racist. Many people who never met or even spoke with this doctor voiced their opinions that he was a racist. One of the names of those fomenting this attack was a familiar one. He is an opinionated local progressive, and is also supposed to be a church-going Christian. One wonders how he justifies his participation in this cyber-thug attack with his religious beliefs.
The point of this cowardly character assassination was to run this local doctor out of business. It didn't work. The doctor's many long-time patients know him as a caring, effective, efficient physician who wants the best for his patients without regard to anything other than their wellbeing. The lesson here is that we can disagree with those with different views without trying to ruin them.