Captain Ed has what is, for me, a well timed post on the Captain's Quarters. He's troubled about the problem many people have discussing politics. He is concerned that he might lose his friends over political disagreements. He is not certain that he will and asks this question, "Do we only lose those who we thought were friends?"
Both Ed and I are from Minnesota which is, without a doubt, one of the least tolerant states in the Union towards conservatives (despite all of the liberal talk about tolerance). I know for a fact that I would be in trouble at my work if people there new I was a conservative. I don't discuss politics with anyone in my neighborhood either. The only people in my neighborhood whose politics I know are liberal because they figure they are so right about everything that no one could possibly have a problem with it (nor could they have a problem with loudly hating Republicans in a way that would be called racism or bigotry if it were under slightly different circumstances (or even exactly the same circumstances reversed)).
When I was young my friends and I would set aside an hour or so almost every school day to have loud, pointed, vigorous debates over all of the subjects-that-are-to-be-avoided-at-all-cost. We would switch sides of the argument in mid stream, say things just to be inflammatory, pick on the weakest argument, pick on the strongest argument, try our hardest to convince someone else of our side of the argument only to turn on them as soon as we had. It was wonderful. We would leave those sessions, which we called having an argument (Wanna have an argument? Sure let’s find Steve and Jim) laughing and convinced that together would be able to find the truth of any matter that we chose to tackle.
As Ed says though, “When I was younger (I'm almost 41 now), I liked debating politics with friends, as we didn't take ourselves very seriously, or politics, for that matter. We argued politics like others argued baseball or football. Only later on, when I started to discover that people had difficulty separating politics and personal affection, did I become more circumspect about my politics and my values. The experience of silencing myself directly led to this blog, as I found that I could not remain completely silent, especially after war was thrust upon us after 9/11. While I found other ways to express myself, I rarely did so amongst anyone except my closest and longest friends for fear of rejection. Sometimes I wondered if I sold my friends, co-workers, and acquaintances a bit short in doing so; I had a couple of experiences of being rejected for my politics, but it wasn't widespread and didn't involve really close friends.”
My “argument” friends were drawn closer together by our debates but I don’t see the same thing in the wider world. My situation at work (and as a resident of Minnesota) has kept me silent for a long time. I am so happy to have this blog so that I can express myself more freely. Notice, however, that I don’t have my full name on it. I would much rather have my full name on it but I realize that I might lose my job (and I realize that, with a little digging, people could find out my full name, or you could send me an e-mail if you really have to know).
I have been having a debate, with myself this time, over whether I should get involved in the “discussion” (which word I use only because I can’t think of a negative enough word to replace it) over same sex marriage. Just to follow tradition I have switched positions on myself several times and have attacked myself just when I thought I had figured out what I was going to do. I feel like I have something to offer the discussion, but really do not want to deal with the hate that is emanating from the gay rights people. With their tendency to brand everyone who does not want to give them every single thing they ask for as a homophobic bigot, I feel like they make it hard to be even partially on their side. If they were to label me that way I know they would be wrong. But it would hurt me none the less, and make me mad. And from the comment sections I’ve seen on other blogs I feel like the label would be applied knee-jerk. You think my job wouldn’t be in danger? Look at what the left is trying to do to Mel Gibson. They demand a resignation every time someone has the damn gall to have a different opinion.
I have written several drafts and scrapped them, only to bring them back and rewrite them again. I have things to say that I have not seen anywhere else. I would hope that they would add a little to each side of the issue. You may see it and you may not. Don’t hold your breath.