LONSBERRY: It's Not My Fault You Hate Me

It’s not my fault that you hate me, it’s yours.

               Your upset is not the result of my views, it’s the result of your intolerance.

               The fact you don’t like what I say doesn’t mean that I’m wrong or you’re right, it merely means we disagree and you choose to be upset by that fact.

               That’s not wisdom on your part, it’s immaturity. That’s not how adults act, that’s how children act. Spoiled, self-centered children who mistakenly believe they can get their way by throwing a tantrum.

               The fact that most in society share your intolerance doesn’t change anything. The popularity of wrong does not make it right. Mobs have a record of typically being wrong.

               And if you are intent on silencing those who are different from you, you are part of a mob. Whether it’s in person or in the public arena or online. Silencing others isn’t advocating, it is bullying. It is imposing your will on others, it is denying others a right you claim for yourself.

               It is, sadly, bigotry.

               And it is not the spirit of America.

               America is a nation built on the belief in individual liberty and conscience. Each person pursues his or her own happiness, forms his or her own views and is free to express and live those views. America is a live-and-let-live nation. Free speech is not just a constitutional right, it is a cultural imperative.

               Or at least it has traditionally been.

               The common commitment of citizenship in our Republic and membership in our society has been a belief that the other person’s freedom is as important as your own. Our almost 250-year history has been one of steadily expanding liberty because of that belief.

               Until now.

               Now, we seek to publicly destroy people, and get them fired from their jobs, if we disagree with them. If they express a view different from ours, or contrary to the orthodoxy of the philosophical movement or political party to which we belong, we are completely intolerant of them, not only refusing to hear their position, but taking active steps to make sure no one else hears it either.

               This is oppression.

               Suppressing the liberty of another person is oppression. And when you seek to delegitimize speech, when you seek to disqualify freedom of conscience, you are suppressing liberty – liberty our founding document calls God given. Liberty which two centuries of Americans have considered essential.

               The history of the United States is a tableau of dramatically divergent and innovative thought. In areas of politics, religion, social structure, philosophy and human relations, America has repeatedly produced movements and insights never before seen. Many of these have faded away as they failed the test of public embrace, and others have gone on to better the world. But each was allowed to be conceived and discussed in the larger society because of the American commitment to freedom.

               You do your thing, I’ll do mine.

               That commitment has served America well.

               But the increased intolerance of recent years, the draconian imposition of philosophical orthodoxy, has stifled true liberty. It has not been the American spirit. And it will do what all oppression does – feed a totalitarian spirit that stifles human progress and destroys the true enjoyment of life for all people.

               The irony of intolerance is that it destroys people on both sides. It takes from its victims freedom, and it takes from its perpetrators moral authority and, ultimately, their own freedom as well. Because the gag your force on your neighbor is the gag you will one day wear yourself. And if you have advanced your view through social brutality, through the violence of social media and marketplace bullying, you have tainted your victory. Because you can’t do the right thing the wrong way, and advancing your free speech by silencing someone else’s is the wrong way.

               It’s not my fault that you hate me.

               Hatred is never justified, and it is always a failing of the heart within which it resides. Your “reasons” for hating those who are different from you are always immoral justifications, as wrong in the realm of American politics as they were in Nazi politics, or in any society or time in which “others” have been marginalized by antagonists and activists.

               Your upset is not the result of my views, it’s the result of your intolerance.

               It doesn’t matter what I believe. I am a free American, and I may think and say whatever I want. As may you, and all 300 million of us. It is our right. And the exercise of one person’s right is not a justification for the rise of another person’s anger.

               It is your intolerance that makes you want to silence me. Those like you may pretend that it is actually you who are fighting against intolerance, but it is just pretending. You are not tolerant of the views of others, and you want to silence them. Silencing anyone, by any means, is always an act of violence. And usually it is based in bigotry. Bigotry based on differentness. You believe that because I think something different from you, that I am inferior to you – either intellectually or morally. Either I am dumb, or I am not enlightened. I can only think what I think because I lack your intelligent and moral perspective. That’s what you believe. And that belief is wildly condescending and arrogant.

               And wrong.

               And un-American.

               So examine yourself. If what I say, or what anyone says, angers you, and draws from you a desire to censor and stifle their expression, you are wrong.

               Oh, you may be successful, generations of petty tyrants have been.

               But you are wrong.

               The fact you take umbrage at what someone else says is an indictment of you, not them.

               Free people understand that. And so should you.

               Free people support the freedom of their fellow citizens. And so should you.