Should Have Known Better Than To Speak My Mind On Politics
I have this very talented fiction writer friend I truly adore who shares my views on manners and rudeness and even stands up to the rude herself. This is quite the relief because I'm typically the only person ever to speak up when rudesters trample all over the rest of us.
Well, speaking up about my political views was a mistake on Saturday, because I'm libertarian and she's very much anything but. She's also on the left. I'm neither left nor right, but it's my impression and my experience that when people on the right disagree with you, they typically don't take it as personally as some do on the left. People on the right who disagree with me just seem to think I'm a bit stupid (like for my view that we had no business being in Iraq), but they don't think I'm a terrible person for not sharing their views.
My mother experienced the latter recently with a friend, who told her to please never bring up Barack Obama again in her presence (my mother is not an Obama fan, and indicated why in some conversation she and her friend had -- probably by my mother expressing fiscally conservative views). My mother told me that she felt their friendship would never be the same. I told my mom my opinion, that when people on the left don't agree with you, they tend to feel offended that you would even have such views, and even view you as a bad person for having them.
I should have remembered this when my friend made a remark about Santorum (I despise the guy, by the way) and sex and then hopped onto coverage of birth control by health insurance. This was basically my cue -- I saw the can of worms and I got out my can opener -- instead of doing what I should have done, not engaging and hopping on to another subject.
She was shocked at my views on freedom of religion: That if you are, say, a Catholic hospital, and you are not getting public funds, you should not have to provide any medication or service that runs contrary to your religion. (I would add now that I would think this religious dispensation should be suspended if necessary to save a life.)
Now, I'm an atheist, and I think religion is silly, and I'm a supporter of Planned Parenthood and find abortions creepy, but feel a woman has a right to have one (but please have it as early as possible). But, I still feel that people who have religious beliefs should not be forced by the government to do things that violate them.
In case this didn't horrify my friend enough about me, we somehow moved on to other such neutral topics like government meddling in health insurance (and my view that one of the biggest problems is that it's tied to the workplace).
And then, for the crowning glory of what should be termed "How to put a rift in a perfectly wonderful friendship," we somehow moved on to the subject of "What if this cafe decided to say black people couldn't come there?"
I said, "I think that's ugly and horrible but I also think they should be free to do that. I wouldn't patronize this cafe if they had that policy, and I'd probably open up a cafe next door that welcomed everybody -- everybody not shouting into a cell phone."
Shocked, she said that this would take us back to the days of Jim Crow Laws.
And I told her the problem there was government -- government legislation that prohibited blacks and whites from mixing, and that I thought the free market solved these problems. Again, you don't want to serve blacks? You're not going to be serving me, either.
And, I told her, I'd be for freedom to choose who comes into your business even if I'm the excluded one. I told her that I'd experienced some pretty awful anti-Semitism as a child -- egging of our house and more -- but that even if the discrimination fell upon me, I would still maintain the same view.
We walked out to our cars together, and she said something about how necessary government is to run every area of our lives, and I said my view is that government makes a mess of it and that I wanted as little intervention as possible: basically just road maintenance, defense, and the classic stuff you usually hear libertarians talk about when they explain small government.
From the look on her face, I realized about midway through that I'd dug myself into the same friendship hole I'd talked to my mother about, and realized I'd made a mistake. It isn't that I think I should keep quiet about my views; I just think I need to realize that some people just can't help but be anything but deeply offended by them, and talk with those people about shoes, good books, and the weather.