I have some friends, 300+ on facebook. They represent every aspect of American society. Rich and poor, old and young, educated and uneducated, wise and not-so-wise, liberal and conservative, black and white and gray, and some very opinionated. I have been reluctant to post dramatic political points of view for fear of alienating someone – isn’t that the purpose of ‘political correctness”? Some have “unfriended” me because of points of view. What to do? What to do?
This latest tragedy in Orlando shook me out of my fear of losing friends. Some things are too important to avoid in the interest of “political correctness”. My dearest friend, Peg Merker, is generally apolitical, not interested in arguing for the sake of politics. But she too was awakened by the Orlando murders.
She posted on facebook: “Tell me how your right to own an ASSAULT gun is going to protect your family??? Is it going to protect your 16 y/o daughter studying Math in the library at Columbine?? Is it going to protect your only child in his 1st grade class in Sandy Hook??? Is it going to protect your wife, the love of your life, the mother of your children at a party in San Bernardino?? Is it going to protect your brother dancing at a night club in Orlando?? Is it going to protect your soldier husband working at a recruitment center in the Midwest?? What’s it going to take for you people to see that ASSAULT guns are killing what you so selfishly claim to be your right?? Right to WHAT???? Unfortunately your right, is also the right of the criminally and mentally insane…
Peg hits the nail on the head. And inspired me to become more proactive on particular political issues. These issues are important – and true friends who disagree will debate the issues without losing the friendship.
I took my newfound courage to a picnic table where friends sometimes gather. They are from all walks of life – but generally are northwest Missouri conservative. I said something about guns – all of my friends find the Orlando shooting to be atrocious – and the debate quickly veered away from guns to homophobia and radical Islam and Obama and Trump and Clinton and all of the other issues that serve only to muddy the water and avoid the real issue of wackos owning assault weapons.
I own guns. Shotguns, rifles, and a 22 caliber hand gun that I purchased to teach my grandsons about gun safety. I did not grow up with guns. My father was a hero of World War II and he would not have a gun in our home. He was a man who experienced the reality of assault weapons and found them to be useless in everyday life. I purchased my first gun when I was 28 years old. My son was four and I felt obligated to teach him, and his sisters, about gun safety. His sisters ignored me for they had no use for even the discussion of guns.
Political correctness cuts both ways. Trump supporters claim that his lack of political correctness is an asset – they believe he is willing to say whatever is necessary regardless of whether he hurts someone’s feelings. But those same folks rise up in anger if someone, like me, protests their opinion. They are essentially saying, “you can only speak if you agree with us”. If you do not agree then we will trash you and your reputation. We will call you names. We will chastise you. We will unfriend you on facebook. Those folks become really nasty and belligerent. And their tactics have worked.
I have avoided most political points of expression on facebook because I knew there would be a backlash from a group of my ‘friends”. The Orlando massacre shook me out of my fears of losing someone who claimed to be my friend.
In the future, and particularly in this election year, I am going to be a vocal supporter of human dignity – whether others like it or not.
Now I have to qualify a few things. Any cause, like gun control, does not justify being mean or hateful or resentful or vengeful. And that is what happens so often in politics. People take their cause as being the highest value and use the cause to justify obnoxious behavior – the ultimate result is another act of terror.
Let us have a civil but honest discussion of important issues facing humanity.