Sunday, February 5, 2017

And five things we probably can't discuss

Updated 8 Feb: This article rapidly became the most read and most argued piece I've written to date.  It says something to me that nobody wanted to join a discussion when I offered an opening on five core wedge issues between Liberals and Conservatives, but as soon as I said something was off limits, people went through the roof.  

I'm leaving the original article untouched below, but I want to add something for future readers. And it's this:  saying a topic is off limits is not the same as saying the matter is settled or that I don't see anything worth hearing from anyone on the other side.  Instead, making it off limits is to forthrightly and respectfully say to you (in advance) we are only going to get into a fight, not a discussion or a debate, but a fight, if you try and force me into one of these lanes.  I'd rather not do that.  I'd rather you know where my red lines are and, instead, focus on the many things we have in common to try and start building small bridges where we can.  That said, read on.

In my last post, I suggested that there are a lot of things that liberals and conservatives can actually talk about IF you agree to drop the rhetoric for a little while.  And, if we're going to actually turn the corner on this ever-widening impasse, then we're going to have to take those first tentative steps.

But some things are deal-breakers; ideas whose time has passed and simply do not belong in 21st century America.  The conservative machine likes to characterize liberals as mushy-gushy, bleeding hearts who hug trees and cry a lot.  But liberals should not be afraid to draw a hard bright line when their core principles are attacked.

Equal Dignity
There is no room for diminishing any person or group of people, simply because you disagree with them, believe differently than they do, or because you believe you simply have the superior position, morally or personally.  We do not have second-class citizens.  I look forward to a day when the term "marginalized group" is something we talk about in historical context.  If you plan on going down this road, I will stop you.  I will correct you.  I will invite you to never speak that way in my presence again.  This includes any so-called 'dog whistles'.

Equal Justice
There's a saying: lies, damn lies, and statistics.  Spin machines love to find ways to twist statistics into narratives that imply inequalities in justice are either over-blown or self-imposed.  The bare facts on this matter are plain and irrefutable.  Marginalized groups in this country do not get equal protection or equal treatment under the law.  If you're not willing to acknowledge that injustice and see it as a central issue of the American identity, then we aren't going to be able to talk.  Yes - #BlackLivesMatter

Equal Opportunity
"Opportunity" is a really broad term.  When I say "opportunity," I mean "opportunity to flourish."  To me, this goes from childhood (education) through transition (college and entering the workforce) through adulthood (work, income, participation in all aspects of society).  Now, I'm not talking specific policy here (I don't think college should be free for everyone, for example).  I'm just talking about the core belief.  If you won't acknowledge that, currently, people are still systematically and individually blocked from opportunities afforded to others, then I can't have a conversation with you.

Repealing Roe
We are never going to agree on abortion.  And that's okay.  It's a visceral issue.  Protecting children is one of our deepest instinctual traits.  But here's the deal.  Not supporting abortion personally is not the same as declaring your values as holding dominion over a woman's body and choices.  A woman who is forced to have a child in our society is forced, too, to bear the full burdens of supporting and raising that child in almost every case.  Outlawing abortion is basically a mandatory minimum 19-year sentence for the woman with ZERO accountability for men or for society.  So, no, the middle-aged affluent white men in think tanks and government have no business passing laws over one segment of society that will never impact them directly, and I'm not going to debate that with anyone.

"Fake News"
I hate this term.  It lends too much credibility to lying.  But that's what we call it these days.  I have very active and respectful debates with long-time friends on the right.  But bring the facts.  Facts lend clarity.  Facts can be examined on equal terms by all parties.  Propaganda cannot.  And, if you come at me with unverified nonsense from "" then I will shut you down.  That's not a debate; that's a flame-throwing match.

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