Tuesday, June 19, 2012

don't legislate! tolerate!

Remember that bumper sticker conservatives loved after 9/11 that said “Freedom isn’t Free!?” When it came to justifying the cost of war, Republicans were all about freedom and the high price we should be willing to pay, both in dollars and in lives, to preserve it. 

I never put much credence in that argument, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the party willing to pay so dearly for freedom currently has its righteous nose pressed against my liberties at every turn.  The examples keep rolling in, fast and furious:

-Rick Santorum doesn’t think I should be allowed to use birth control

-The Republican Legislators in my state of VA don’t think I can manage my personhood and pregnancy at the same time

-Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson doesn’t think I should be allowed to vote

-Wisconsin’s Governor Walker doesn’t think hard working public servants should be allowed to bargain together for fair wages

-The north Carolina legislature doesn’t think scientists should be allowed to practice their professions and publish inconvenient data on climate change

-Lawmakers in Arizona don’t think students should read books by or about Mexicans or Native Americans. 

-Lawmakers in Florida don’t think all registered voters should vote

-Conservatives across the country don’t think same-sex couples should be allowed to marry —with some, such as those most recently in North Carolina, using their state constitutions to deny rather than confer rights to citizens 

-Michigan lawmakers join a long list of state legislators who don’t think women should have autonomy over their own bodies, pregnant or not   

-And just for some comic relief, squirmy Michigan legislators would prefer if we didn’t say the word “vagina” in their presence 

 I guess vagina is the new Voldemort – that which shall not be named. 

 Are those men in kindergarten? 

How ironic Republicans fault Democrats for running a Nanny state. As self-appointed babysitters, they’ve cornered the market on regulating personal conduct, fussing like old ninnies over our every move.

Here’s the problem: I’m all grown up, and in the process, I grew a moral conscience of my own.  With it, I can make all these decisions for myself. 

I bet you can too.

The issue here is not whether a person particularly likes Native American Literature, agrees with the threat of rising sea level, supports gay marriage or a woman’s right to choose; the question is about who gets to decide an individual’s actions as they pertain to these issues. Legislative babysitters? Or individual citizens?

We need to do a better job of separating what might be a rule in one person’s family from what should be a law in everyone’s nation.  With this clear separation, you can more easily see that one person’s right to read a book, or enter into a same sex marriage, or terminate a pregnancy, does not mean everyone else has to do it too.  My right to exercise a freedom does not infringe on your right to abstain from it, disapprove of it, or even condemn it.   

In other words, you don’t have to do it, but you do have to tolerate it. 

And that’s the true price of freedom: tolerance. 

I read a Republican slogan today that said, “Annoy a Democrat, love your country!”  Republicans are great at waving the flag and professing their love for America, but they’re not so great at loving Americans.  No.  Not so great at all. I don’t think it’s enough to love your country if you can’t tolerate the people in it.

All of this legislative babysitting is an attempt to make us all the same.  They want us to restrict immigration so we’ll all look and talk the same; censor books and science so we’ll all think the same; purge voter rolls so we’ll all vote the same; restrict marriage so our families will all be shaped the same; restrict reproductive rights so that all women will choose the same. 

That's a lot of time wasted protecting conservatives' fear of difference! 

But conservatives are right about one thing:  freedom isn’t free. They’re just wrong about the price.  Instead of paying in dollars, or in soldiers’ precious lives, we need to pay by electing officials who trust and respect Americans enough to let us choose, let us vote, let us read, let us debate, let us marry, let us control our own destinies. 

We need to pay in tolerance.   

My message for conservatives:  Don’t legislate! Tolerate! 


  1. "I don’t think it’s enough to love your country if you can’t tolerate the people in it." doesn't that just nail it. loving america and not americans. sounds like a great title/article to get in front of peeps july 4th

    1. gee, wish i'd thought of that - now i won't be able to think of anything to say on the 4th!

    2. well said, deb.
      a majority of white men are scared sh_tless that they are losing power to minorities and women. They cannot AFFORD to be tolerant.

      i hope Obama can engage the tolerant millennials enough to vote. I worry that they don't understand what's at stake.

  2. you said, " Republicans are great at waving the flag and professing their love for America, but they’re not so great at loving Americans." I agree, and I think the word "professing" is important. They declare it, but don't live it, as America should stand for freedom, and I absolutely agree that conservatives are about limiting freedom. How they have missed the entire point of our country being founded on freedoms, including freedom of or from religion is beyond me. It is so bizarre, short sighted, selfish, greedy, and just plain old un American.

    1. i agree it is so perplexing. what many conservatives seem to want most is freedom from difference. so frustrating!