January 12

More Guns

Ugh, this topic makes me tired and slightly nauseous. In fact, after the nightmare of Newtown, I had to bail out of Facebook for several weeks. The posts, from both the anti-gun lobby and the pro-gun lobby, were pushing me toward a nervous breakdown. Every day I had to drop my baby girl off at her elementary school. I would wave to her principal (a wonderful man who had coached my son’s Little League team) and see Dawn Hochsprung. I would smile at her music teacher (a young lady I’ve known since she was my daughter’s age) and see Maryrose Kristopik. I would watch my second-grader walk through those doors and see all those precious children gunned down by a mentally messed-up young man whose mama loved guns and taught him how to shoot really well. To come home and read all these posts on my Facebook wall was too much.

So I left Facebook, quit watching the news, stopped reading my Reuters and NPR feeds on my phone. I prayed that everyone would calm down. At least they might stop bombarding me with posts about a subject that, even in the best of times, makes my heart race.

I hate guns.

If you have read my blog before, that’s old news. I won’t re-hash.

Recently, thanks to Alex Jones’ total meltdown with Piers Morgan, the pro-gun/NRA folks’ chief argument has become “We need to be armed against the possibility that our government is taken over by tyrants.”

Because that happens a lot.

But even if it did, we’d be screwed.

See, the irony here is that the same people who scream that we have to have guns in case of a dictatorial government takeover tend to be the same people who want a really well-funded military. So in the remote case that our government WERE taken over by tyrants, we are, pardon my French, totally f—ed. Those tyrants will have access to weapons of mass destruction, so happily funded by neo-cons, that Saddam Hussein could only have dreamed of. And nobody’s little arsenal is going to stand a chance.

Meanwhile, we have millions of people with ridiculous, unnecessary weapons. Yes, by and large, they are law-abiding citizens. I know several responsible gun-owners who would never bust into a school, a movie, theater, a mall, and start using innocent people for target practice. But let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a woman. She was smart, well-educated, compassionate. She loved her husband and her child, and she would never let anyone hurt her family.

When she was pregnant with her second child, however, she got sick with a very rare condition. None of her doctors could figure out what was wrong. But something terrible was happening to the woman’s brain. She stopped sleeping. She started seeing “ghosts.” She started hearing voices. And those voices told her terrible things. They told her she could not possibly carry her baby to term. They told her she had to die. They told her that her husband and son would be sad, though, so she should take them with her. She argued with the voices. She couldn’t watch her beloved little family die. Poison. Fire. Kitchen knife. They were too slow. Too painful. Too dreadful. She couldn’t kill them like that. If only she had a gun…

Luckily, I didn’t.

And my husband found me in the kitchen with a knife and sent me to the E.R. where I was, by the grace of God, treated by a doctor who realized what was wrong with me. One pill a day, and I was right as rain.

Eight years later, I think about those nightmarish weeks when my brain didn’t feel right in my skull, when I didn’t sleep for weeks, when I saw things that weren’t there, when I heard scary little voice that told me to kill people. It doesn’t seem real. I hate guns, and I adore my family. I would never dream of hurting anyone. Could that have been me?

And then I see “monsters” like James Holmes and Adam Lanza. “Bad guys” with guns who could’ve been stopped by “good guys” with guns. What a quaint notion. Obviously, these “bad” people weren’t ALWAYS bad. They went many years without killing anyone with their precious guns. At one point, they would likely have been considered the kind of people pro-gun folks WANT to own weapons. To protect people from the bad guys. Until they snapped. Then they become the bad guys. They wear black hats. Easy to recognize. Especially when they’re reloading their huge clips designed to kill lots of people fast.

Obviously, the kind of mental breakdown I experienced is far more common than a tyrannical government takeover. Most rational people don’t want to make all guns illegal, but this argument against ANY legislation is naive, paranoid and short-sighted. If the US government wants to take you out, your gun won’t save you. But if your mom, your brother, your husband snaps and suddenly becomes one of the “bad guys,” your gun will absolutely kill you.

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November 13

An Open Letter to the Republican National Committee

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I write to you as an independent voter from Indiana. Although I voted for President Obama, I also voted for several Republicans in last week’s elections. Since I started voting in 1990, I have prided myself on splitting my ticket, thinking carefully about the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, regardless of party. Sadly, your party is putting forth fewer and fewer candidates who represent thoughtful, moderate politics, candidates who will get things done in Washington. Every election, my ballot becomes more and more blue, even though my opinions on the issues have not changed.

This year, your party went on a witch hunt against its own. Your constituents, fueled by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and other talking heads, went on a crusade for ideological purity and took down any moderate in their path. My state lost a Senatorial icon for whom I had voted in every election – Richard Lugar. He was replaced with the extremist Richard Mourdock. His comments on rape were bad enough, but the main reason I could never vote for him were two other more egregious comments: “I certainly think bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view” and “The highlight of politics is to inflict my opinion on someone else.” That took him off my ballot.

Mitt Romney, at least the Mitt Romney who was governor of Massachusetts, was an intriguing choice as your presidential candidate. Had he remained the Governor Romney of Massachusetts I had become familiar with, I might have voted for him. However, like John McCain four years ago, Romney was disfigured by your party. He had to pander to your base, which is growing ever more virulent. What some people saw as a “flip-flop,” I recognized as a Directive from the Committee: “Gov. Romney must say THIS, not THAT, if he wants to win our base.” Last year, as I watched your candidates’ debates, I hoped Jon Huntsman would win; he was brilliant, experienced and thoughtful. Now I’m glad he did not because you would have put him through the same machine through which you yanked McCain and Romney; I doubt Huntsman would’ve come out of your primaries a viable candidate, just as Romney did not.

But the real purpose of my letter is this: I am begging you to take control of your brand, your message and your base.

For too long you have allowed Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and the like to represent your brand and spread your message. It is not working. You will continue to lose more and more of the middle until you take back control of your brand.

You need to step up and speak against ridiculous pronouncements of doom by firebrand, right-wing ministers who insist that Armageddon is coming because the Democrats won the Presidency! You need to say SOMETHING when your extremist constituents start petitions to secede from the United States. (Didn’t we do that once? Poor Abe Lincoln must be rolling over in his grave, watching his own party undo the very principles for which he fought so valiantly.)

You need to insist upon some intellect from your constituency. The smart, small-efficient-government guys I used to love are being drowned out by the crazies screaming about “dropping off fiscal cliffs!” and “Obamacare is socialist!” and “the end of democracy!”

You have created a Frankenstein monster of cowboy capitalists, anarchist militiamen, atheist Ayn Rand acolytes, pro-life evangelicals, and paranoid old white folks who watch Fox News (a.k.a. Tea Partiers). If you don’t figure out a way to calm this monster down, it will to continue to frighten the moderates and alienate the rest of our nation until your party becomes completely obsolete.

I’m not trying to be cute or disingenuous. I truly want your party to be a viable option for those of us in the middle. As far as I’m concerned, the more parties, the better. But right now, as one of your more intelligent strategists put it, “”Republicans are a Mad Men party in a Modern Family America,” (Matthew Dowd as cited in Tampa Bay Times, 11/11/12). Stop letting the crazies and the well-paid talking heads be the face of your party.† Take control and bring some sanity back to the GOP for the good of the USA.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Mahoney

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October 25

The View from Indiana

I’m a Hoosier.

God help me, but it’s true. I was born and raised in this state, and I have lived 90% of my life within a 10-square-mile space on the west side of its capital city.

Indiana has little to recommend it. It’s mostly flat, at best, a little hilly down south. We have no mountains. It’s also relatively dry. We have some creeks (or as many of us locals call them, “cricks”) and a lot of retention ponds. The nearest lake is about 15 miles from my house, and it’s man-made, like most of the other lakes around central Indiana. Access to water for recreation costs money. A lot of money.

In the spring our weather is moody – bouncing from freezing to 80 – snow, thunderstorm and tornado. In the summer we have oppressive heat and humidity. Autumn is nice for about 20 minutes, and then it’s winter. No snow – just sub-zero windchills.

We do have sports (NFL, NBA, Triple A baseball, racing), if you’re into that. If you’re not, you need to learn to be because there’s really not much else to do.† We have an arts community that has been struggling like a tiny tomato plant in a weed patch for about 30 years. Our symphony orchestra is struggling to survive a union-management conflict. Dance troops and theater companies come and go. The same one or two thousand people frequent all the arts venues and keep them going.

And then there’s our government.

Republican.

VERY Republican.

But, as I have learned from my husband, Indiana does Republican differently from other states.

My hubby’s not from here (one of the things that attracted me); he’s from New England. And in the twentysome years he spent there, he was a Republican. When I first met him, he and I were both Republicans, though I’d started questioning some of the inconsistencies I’d begun to see (pro-life/pro-death penalty, Christian/anti-welfare, small government/legislate sexuality).

Indiana turned my husband out of the GOP for good.

He couldn’t believe what “Republican” meant here. In his home state, Republicans really were for small government. Really. People also believed, truly believed, in personal responsibility. In other words, they believed that EVERYONE had the equal capability to succeed and should, therefore, be treated equally. My husband is one of the most -ism and -phobia-free people I’ve ever met (another thing that attracted me). The concepts of racism, chauvinism and homophobia never enter his mind unless someone brings them up. Finally, you can be an agnostic or an atheist Republican in New England. They really get the whole concept of “separation of church and state.” I guess they understand the Constitution better than we Hoosiers do, which makes sense because their states actually drafted the thing.

In Indiana “Republican” has a definition my husband can’t fathom. Hoosier “conservatives” are all for small government unless you’re doing something they don’t approve of. Like being gay. Or wanting to terminate a pregnancy resulting from a rape. Or singing the national anthem wrong. Or selling Girl Scout cookies. Then they’ll legislate the $#*@ out of you.

Racism is alive and well in Indiana as one of my black friends pointed out just this morning after she perused the Indianapolis Star‘s comment boards. The Republican party doesn’t have a monopoly on racists, of course. But I can tell you that the only 4 people I’ve ever “un-friended” on Facebook were Hoosier Republicans using the n-word to describe President Obama. Most of the racists I encounter in Indiana these days figure out fast that they shouldn’t express their racism openly around me. They do it in subtle ways, though. Like being “nervous” about the Middle Eastern market that just opened down the street. (It sells “halal” meat! And Bill O’Reilly told us all about the dangers of THAT!) Or endlessly criticizing one of our very few black legislators for being…a Muslim! *gasp* And being on the side of the “welfare queens” (read: black single moms, working or not).

And just try to be openly atheist or agnostic in Hoosier Republican circles. Or Jewish. Or CATHOLIC!!! As one right-winger put it to me recently, “How do you get to Heaven with a faith like that?!” Indiana conservatives will be happy to take your vote, but you really need to keep quiet about your faith ’cause that’s an abomination right there.

So when an Indiana politician hits the national news, as Richard Mourdock did yesterday, I just sigh and shake my head. Hoosier thoughtlessness, dogma, ignorance on display again. And way too many of my Hoosier friends defending Mourdock: “I respect him even more for speaking his mind! Liberals are just twisting his words.” Right. This guy wants your daughter to have her rapist’s baby. She should be honored to give birth to the child of man who impregnated her violently and against her will because that child is a gift from God.

I love babies. Truly. I had two of the most beautiful babies in the history of the world. One of them is a girl. And if some $%& rapes her and gets her pregnant, I will NOT force her to carry that baby for 9 months if she can’t handle it. Sorry, but the mental health and well-being of MY baby comes before the rapist’s baby. And I don’t want some senator forcing my daughter to be an incubator just because he likes to impose his opinions on other people. The God I know and love is wise and realizes that the world He created is not black and white. Since He knows all, why wouldn’t He know that this embryo is not going to be carried to term? Hang on to its soul and bestow it on another child? He’s omiscient and ominpotent. He can do that.

Just not in Indiana ’cause that’s blasphemy. Quick! Pass a law!

But all this talk about abortion is a red herring anyway. It’s one issue of hundreds, and it’s an issue that Mourdock and most other Republican lawmakers may, but probably won’t, have an opportunity to vote on during their terms. Still, Hoosiers take that bait, hook, line and sinker. They vote based on a candidate’s abortion view. Never mind that they might disagree with him or her on every other issue. They never get past that one talking point. Dangle it in front of them, and they’re like Dory in Finding Nemo: “Look! Something shiny!”

My husband likes to remind me that if I lived in New York or California, I’d be considered a conservative. I’m actually very moderate. I don’t like guns, but I know they’re a Constitutional right; I would never support an all-out ban. I hate war, but I supported our going into Afghanistan. I support eliminating the US Post Office; it’s obsolete. If I have to choose between making a law and not making a law, most of the time, I’d say, “Let’s not. Avoid government overreach.”

But in Indiana, my conservative friends paint me as a ridiculous flaming liberal. I’m a Socialist, a liberal elitist with too much education.

I am almost embarrassed to say that, in two weeks, I’ll be voting a straight Democratic ticket for the first time in my life. When I voted in my first election in 1990, I voted a straight Republican ticket. But that Republican party doesn’t really exist anymore. Especially not here, where the conservative witch hunt against moderates has driven out even iconic public servants like Richard Lugar (for whom I voted in every primary and election). There are no moderate Republicans left for me to vote for. And I can’t vote for the extreme Righties like Mourdock.

I guess if there’s one good thing about politics in Indiana, it’s that Democrats here are not extreme. They can’t be. A Democrat in office in the Hoosier state is, by definition, a moderate liberal. So I am confident that my straight-D ballot will have no Socialists on it.

Don’t be surprised if Mourdock still wins, though. He’s the face of the Republican party in Indiana.

Maybe it’s time to move.

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August 17

Matthew 26:52

I have arachnophobia. Spiders scare me to death. They are ugly, creepy, crawly things that can sneak into your bed at night and lay eggs in your ear. GAH! I hate them. Of course, I live with them every day. I live on this planet, and this planet has lots of spiders, and thereís nothing I can do about it. And anyway, they eat a lot of insects that are far more threatening than the spiders themselves. So theyíve got that going for them. I always try to emphasize that point with my daughter when sheís confronted by one of the eight-legged monsters. Sheís inherited my phobia, but I try very hard not to set a bad example for her. If the spiderís inside, I kill it with as calm a demeanor as possible. Outside, I encourage the kids to leave it alone. ďItís not hurting you,Ē I tell them. ďLeave it alone.Ē

I also have a gun phobia. Guns scare me to death. They are ugly, metallic things that can take a life in an instant. GAH! I hate them. Of course, I live with them every day. I live in the United States, and this country has LOTS of guns, and thereís nothing I can do about it. Anyway, they do provide some food for people who actually hunt for food and not just sport. So theyíve got that going for them. I always try to remind myself of that when Iím confronted by one of the killing machines.† My kids have not inherited my phobia, and I try not to let them see the panic I feel when a gun is near me. ďItís not hurting you,Ē I tell myself. ďLeave it alone.Ē

But there are some big differences between spiders and guns that you just canít deny. First, spiders have NEVER hurt me. Iíve lived 40 years without having a dangerous spider bite or eggs in my ear. Guns, on the other hand, have cost me four friends and a great-grandfather. Iíve also seen four students deal with tragic gun violence. Spiders are a natural phenomenon; guns are man-made. Spiders kill about two people per year worldwide. Guns killed over 30,000 people in the United States alone in one year (CDC, 2007). And 2012 looks like itís gearing up to be a red-letter year for gun violence too.

Almost every single day this summer, Iíve opened up my online home page to see at least one shooting in the headlines: Aurora, the Sikh temple in Louisiana, 3 people shot near Texas A&M, a local boy suspected of robbery killed by a felon. Just one day, Iíd like to open up that page without seeing a headline about another American, or group thereof, getting killed by a gun.

This morning, the story was about two police officers killed in Louisiana. No motive yet, but the first officer was shot while he was just directing traffic. The most recent reader comment? †ďFat, stupid cops got what they deserved. Letís see them oppress people now.Ē I felt nauseous. I bet that commenter has a whole arsenal. (The commentís been taken down by Yahoo!.)

Despite my personal experiences and visceral reaction to guns, I know and love many gun owners. One of my husbandís friends has many guns. They go shooting together at various ranges. My best friendís husband is an avid hunter with many guns. Heís a great guy. They are both responsible gun owners, and I donít want to take their guns from them.

Even my two children own guns.

My heart just started pounding in my chest from simply typing that sentence. Yep. BB guns. The children of the woman who wouldnít even allow a toy gun into her house for the first two years of her sonís life: both of these kids have their own BB guns. My son has had his for a couple years. Christmas present from Santa. Canít you just picture it? It was just like ďA Christmas Story,Ē with me playing the part of the very nervous mom, repeating ďYouíll shoot your eye out!Ē

My daughter got hers the other day. Surprise! Evidently, Daddy okayed this purchase without asking me. So I managed to paste a smile on my face and just didnít watch while my 7-year-old (the gun box has a big warning that itís for ď10 years and olderĒ) shot the heck out of a cardboard box with her cute little pink gun. I tried to be a good sport, but by the end of the day, Iíd completely lost it. My husband and I were in a late-night argument that wound up being almost comically nonsensical, with him spouting a bunch of scientific mumbo-jumbo about technology and war and me crying and blubbering about my friends whoíd committed suicide or been victims of gun homicide.

And it struck me that our argument was representative of how arguments about guns typically go in this country: both sides screaming logical fallacies at cross purposes. So now that Iím calmer, Iím going to try to look at some of the points I hear a lot.

1.†††††† Guns keep us safer: Anecdotally, I could argue that while Iíve seen LOTS of news stories about people being murdered or accidentally killed by guns, I rarely see any stories in which a victim has successfully defended himself with a gun. You could argue thatís a media bias and that Iím extrapolating; however, several studies by the Brady Center and the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery indicate that people who own guns are MORE likely to be injured or killed by a gun. Iím also offended by the implication that follows this argument: if you get shot and youíre not carrying a gun to defend yourself, youíre partly responsible for your own violent death. I heard this crap a lot after the Aurora shooting: ďWasnít anyone in there carrying concealed? Why didnít they take this guy down?Ē Three of the victims were military or ex-military. They were trained in combat, and in that dark theater, taken by surprise by a gunman in Kevlar who had thrown a tear gas grenade, these military veterans realized the best thing to do was hit the ground and try to get their loved ones out of harmís way. Even if theyíd been carrying weapons, theyíd likely have done the same. It was dark, crowded, confusing, and the gunman had body armor. Idiots who throw out this ďhelpfulĒ argument in discussing Aurora should be handed a paint gun, unsuspectingly thrown in a dark room, tear gassed, and pelted with paint until they hit someone given a Plexiglas shield. Good luck.

2.†††††† Guns are our Constitutional right: Yes. “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.Ē As an English teacher, I LOVE the introductory dependent clause here. The WHY comes before the WHAT. Our forefathers believed their citizens should have the ability to rise up against foreign or domestic enemies and protect themselves. A quaint, 18-century notion nowadays. I suppose guns might be useful if Mexico or Canada launches a ground assault. Other than that, privately owned guns arenít going to protect Americans from ANY kind of organized invasion, nor will they protect us if we elect a totalitarian regime. (Yeah, yeah, insert snide ďWe already have!Ē here. Then go read a history book about REAL dictatorships.) I mentioned the other day that we have over 300 million guns in our country, enough to arm every American man, woman and child. My father-in-law kept insisting ďItís not enough!Ē Enough for what? Enough to protect us from foreign powers with fighter jets and missiles? Enough to protect us from our own government which has more nuclear weapons than every other nation on the planet combined? Did the victims of 9/11 fail to protect themselves from the terrorist-hijacked passenger jets because the people in the Twin Towers weren’t carrying enough guns? Guns donít seem very effective against real enemies. I donít deny itís our Constitutional right to own them, but why in Jesusí name, do we need SO MANY?!

3.†††††† If we make guns illegal, only criminals will have guns: This is a logical fallacy, and not worth my time. Most advocates of gun regulation (including me) do NOT want to make all guns illegal. It might be nice, however, to have some restrictions in place so we donít have schizophrenics purchasing AR-15 rifles with 100-round magazines over the internet. Anyway, itís just, for want of a better term, a pissing contest. I have a 22. Well, you have a 45. Okay, then, Iíll buy a Glock. So you buy an AR-15. And on and on it goes. And in the end, itís just chance anyway. When the time comes, whoís got the bigger gun, the faster gun, the element of surprise, the better reflexes, the Kevlar, the cover, the training, the better “killer instinct?”

4.†††††† Guns are the only thing standing between us and a government dictatorship: Really? Tell that to the Venezuelans. They own plenty of guns, but they still have to put up with Chavez. He has more guns and bigger guns and more troops who know how to handle guns. (See #2.)† Youíve got 25 guns in your house to protect you and yours? Well, the governmentís got a lot more than that, dude. And if you do something stupid or if the government decides to put us under military rule, your little arsenal wonít make an iota of difference.

Iíve already said too much. And none of it matters because this is America Ė land of the free, home of the armed. Itís still just the Wild West with fewer horses and more computers.

But I mean it when I say, ďI donít want to take your guns.Ē Believe me, I donít want them. Itís your right to have them. And itís my right to hate them.

And I will pray for you. Pray that you donít have a nervous breakdown one day and kill yourself like my great-grandfather and my friends, Carl and Jerry. Pray that your ďcollectionĒ never gets stolen and used by a bunch of gang bangers to kill an innocent bystander. Pray that you NEVER go out and party and have one too many and forget to put your gun away so your kid finds it and accidentally kills his little brother with it like my studentís nephew did. Pray that your teenager never sneaks out and then wakes you up sneaking back in so that you think heís a burglar and shoot him like another studentís dad did.

My husband says humanity advances through war and violence; guns are part of our technological ďadvancement.Ē Yes. We have killing each other down to a science. We can kill each other by moving one finger. We can kill each other from yards away. We can kill each other without even touching each other. Without even thinking. Thatís our right.

God help us.

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July 9

Sit Down and Shut Up

Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I can’t help wondering if the right-wing blogosphere/Fox News world has some talking point floating around right now. It runs something like this: liberals preach tolerance, but they won’t tolerate opposition; therefore, they are hypocrites.

Like I said, maybe it’s coincidence, but I’ve heard variations on this theme several times in the past couple weeks. Not that it’s a new line. I’ve heard it for years. In fact, I used it myself back in my own right-wing Republican days: “If liberals are so tolerant, why do they get so bent out of shape with people who disagree with them? Shouldn’t they practice what they preach?”

At first blush, this point has merit. If you’re going to talk about the benefits of tolerance, you should lead by example. A liberal who harps about racists and homophobes, but then angrily abuses Tea Partiers for their intolerance is being hypocritical, right? In a word: yes.

Yes.

Yes, liberals should practice what they preach and not scream in the faces of those who disagree with them. Yes, being nasty with intolerant people is hypocritical. Yes, rude accusations and epithets are not good examples of tolerance.

However…

My own experience with the liberals-are-intolerant-hypocrites line makes me smile when I hear conservatives use it. I know when they use it, they’re nervous. I know they use it because they’re trying to disarm their opposition. I know this because that’s when I used it.

It’s kind of a wimpy, whiny, anxious tactic. Basically, they are trying to end the argument before it begins by negating their opponents’ right to argue at all. It’s pretty clever, and when liberals lose their temper, when they engage in hateful, angry speech, this tactic succeeds.

But we’re only human. Even liberals lose their tempers. Good grief, even Jesus, the pinnacle of patience and tolerance, lost his temper with the merchants in the temple. (How interesting that the only example we have of Jesus’ being angry is with the very group conservatives are most concerned with protecting.)

Still, liberals should try not to stoop to the level of the conservatives. After all, isn’t the flip side of this argument that intolerant speech should be reserved for intolerant people? Evidently, angry, narrow-minded rhetoric belongs solely to the GOP because they are openly intolerant. So that would seem to mean that as long as you are obvious in your hatred, you can spew it freely. If, on the other hand, you are trying to tame your natural human tendencies toward prejudice and suspicion, any lapse on your part is utter failure. Liberals must be perfect or else they’re hypocrites.

I know the conservatives who use this line are not confused about perfection and tolerance. Nor are they confused about the difference between “tolerance” and “weakness.” They know that liberals are not perfect and will lose their composure from time to time; they know that you can be tolerant without being a silent doormat. But they don’t like hearing their own angry rhetoric coming from liberal mouths. They want to keep that tool out of the hands of the opposition. Agitated ranting belongs to them and them alone.

I actually agree with the right-wingers on this point: I don’t like to hear rage from liberal mouths either. It is beneath us. (Hear that, Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann? Knock it off!) Let the Rush Limbaughs, the Bill O’Reillys and the Ted Nugents have it.

But we won’t be quiet. We won’t be drowned out, talked over, silenced by the loud screeching on the Right. The only thing necessary for triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. Good people cannot be quiet, and we won’t be quiet when we see intolerance, unfairness and cruelty. We won’t shut up when Southern pastors call for “whites-only” conferences. We won’t be silent when Congressmen refuse to legalize gay marriage because it will jeopardize the sanctity of the institution they sully with their own extramarital affairs. We won’t stand by while women continue to be paid less than their male counterparts for the same work.

We can be tolerant without being quiet. We can be tolerant without being hateful. We can be tolerant without being loud.

But hey, when we do lapse and lose our tempers and engage in the nasty rhetoric we learned so well from the Right, conservatives can take comfort in one way we liberals cannot: At least most of us don’t have guns.

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