Saturday, December 21, 2013

Just like all of us...

Bristol Palin blogs that free speech, and freedom, are sometimes uncomfortable.

She goes on to quote a Time Magazine article who's author's name I missed talking about the political stance one takes when they are offended being to silence their opponent rather than engage in a conversation where both sides may learn something. This is the concluding paragraph she quotes: "G.K. Chesterton said that bigotry is “an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition.” If he is right — and he usually is — then I wonder if the Duck Dynasty fiasco says more about our bigotry than Phil’s."

The past year has seen America ripped apart with polar opposite ideas on race, religion and lifestyle choices -- think Paula Deen, Trayvon Martin, and now Phil Robertson -- with even close friends finding themselves arguing bitterly over who is right.

Or more often, who is wrong.

And yet, I'd guess that, amongst my friends, most believe in God and that the Bible is His recorded word. There we are told one of the greatest of all the commandments is to "love thy neighbor as thyself." I say that loving someone, even unconditionally, doesn't mean you like or approve of everything they do. In that light... I think we'd all do well to stop and consider just what is spewing forth from that hole in our face.

I don't mean only the rabid comments both in support and condemnation for Mr. Robertson though that is what I'm thinking about today. We don't know him. Or at least I don't know him. And one outrageously coarse comment with no context doesn't give me the right to label him as anything.

Who or what he is, is between him and God.

I am among the part of the population who finds the show wildly entertaining and the characters engaging. I know I've seen all of them say stupid things and then turn around and utter the most profound wisdom. They may seem extreme. That's what sells on TV.  But if you look at the overall picture, the Robertsons are pretty normal folk - a mixture of good and bad.

Just like all of us.

There is hate enough to go around in this world...  I'm not sure why we talk about wanting love and acceptance for ourselves and then show our most vile contempt for anyone who makes different choices about their life than we do for ours.  Now and then we hear people say horrific things about women. And I've heard the most outrageously untrue and hateful things about Mormons. And Muslims. And Jews. And Blacks and Hispanics and... Everybody hates somebody! I'm not saying that as justification or to downplay anyone's pain. It's hurtful to be on the receiving end of hate no matter who you are.

But back to Ms. Palin's premise that free speech can be uncomfortable...

Yes, it can.  Free speech is Constitutionally protected in the First Amendment.  Having an opinion is legal.  But this isn't even a free speech issue.  In Mr. Robertson's case, no one has been arrested.  It's an employer telling an employee that their behavior reflected so badly on the company's image that their services are no longer needed.  A&E is well within their rights to make that call.  Mr. Robertson is entitled to his views, even to give them voice.  But that right doesn't protect him from the consequences of choosing to do so.

It's convenient to forget that with choices come consequences.  Consequences that are usually set before the choice is even made.  How often have I been taught that good choices bring happy consequences and bad choices bring unpleasant consequences?

I reap the consequence of each choice I make in a day.  And in any given day some of my choices are good and some are bad.  So do you.

Just like all of us.

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