Friday, June 17, 2016

What Right?

I feel like this one is going to need about ten different disclaimers... and I'm not even sure that I am going to make any sort of a point... but here we go.

First of all, I know that no man and no woman is without fault.  Just as no nation is without an unsavory underbelly.  Let's get that out there right off the bat.

I'm not naive, nor am I uneducated or unaware.

And I've been reticent to get involved in the political postings on Facebook, or on twitter, or in the news.  I'm happy to chit chat with people in person about the presidential race- where my sarcasm, facial expressions, and occasional fury will not be misread.

Next, I must say that I have never been ashamed of my Americanness.  I have never once been ashamed of my background as an American, nor as a woman, nor as a child of a forward thinking, intellectual, hard working middle-class couple.  I have never been afraid to argue with angry foreigners- or angry locals for that matter.

But I just read this article.  And I'm sick.  I'm sick for a lot of reasons- but largely just I'm sick- and a little worried.*

I have always run on the liberal side (*cough* understatement).  Obviously.  And I have always always believed that America's most fundamentally empowering right is our Freedom of Speech.  To this day I consider that right- adopted in 1791- to fundamentally set the US apart.  Seriously- I'd have been on Flynt's side in 1988.  I believe that any idiot with an opinion has an absolute right to express said opinion.  ABSOLUTE.  Nothing is as precious to me as my freedom of expression- a freedom that is poignant and part of my birthright as an American.

(To be fair- I will argue with you if I think you are an idiot who is expressing idiotic, zealous, or otherwise jacked-up notions.  That goes without saying.  Just because I believe you should be allowed to say it, does not mean that I will agree with everything you say.

It's just that I will try hard to let you complete your statement, out respect for that most honored First Amendment, before I bite your head off.)

And here's where it gets sticky and tricky and not a little troubling for me.... because the thing is... Donald Trump and his merry band of morons are saying things that are mean.  And not in a 'you hurt my feelings' kind of way, but in racist, misogynistic, and too-many-to-name-phobic ways.  Which is, and I stand by this, his right.


Trump's freedom of speech is breeding a freedom to hate amongst his supporters.  And it is breeding a willingness- gleeful desire, even- to pass judgment on what should be private and personal.

Some examples?

Women who seek abortions (should abortion be deemed illegal) should be punished?  Sure.  Right.  Except that my body is my domain no matter what.  I have every single right over it that you claim have over yours- and in no world am I going to forfeit those rights.  And in no world am I going to allow someone else to decide whether or not I will carry a child and whether or not I am to be punished for that decision- a decision that is heartbreaking, powerfully difficult, and PRIVATE.  Furthermore, if you actually think that you have some right over my body- that's almost comedically sad.

Oh.  And if I'm going to be punished for an abortion, you're sure as shit going to be punished for a vasectomy.


No more Muslim immigrants?  Now you are judging, and making horrifying rallying cries about, something that is deeply personal- and PRIVATE.  Come on... freedom to practice religion is a constitutionally protected right in the United States.  I mean... and there are some very very strange religions out there.  What gets to me, though, is that he's calling for a ban on all Muslims.  Which doesn't just mean 'Muslim.'  It means French, German, Belgian, English,.... the list goes on.  Because Muslim is a religion, not a nationality.  So now we have enabled a lot of ignorant people to judge and hate a lot of good people who are citizens of our allied nations.  These are not people who fall under some uniform label- with each as good or bad as the other.  And thinking that- expressing that as fervently as Trump is- smacks distinctly of the Nazi Anti Semitism of World War Two; it tastes the same as Ethnic Cleansing did during the Bosnian War.

Yeah.  I said it.

What's next?  Trump calls for a ban on immigration and for the widespread deportation of current Muslim-Americans.  This is a slippery slope of nonsense.

Except that it's not nonsense when it's a slope that could lead to the American Presidency.  It's not nonsense when people are buying into xenophobia; not when they are buying into ethnic/religious/gender superiority complex.

Those are not the American standards.  Those are not the rights or freedoms protected by the documents that founded our nation- nor are they the hopes and dreams of those men who penned said documents.  Those are the standards of fear, hate, assumption, and mis-education.

So.  Here we are full circle.  I believe in the First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech.  I believe in it enough that it could be considered my very own religion (which is also protected under the First Amendment).  But right now, that freedom is a scary thing.  It protects- rightly so- all of the cruelty any one person can spew out at any given moment.  When that person is the presumptive Republican Nominee for President of the United States...

that freedom is a very scary thing.

*I read all the comments, too.  And I do agree that tweeting is not necessarily valid or professional journalism.  But I also think that his reactions were and are valid.