Fair warning: this is a rant. I let it sit a few weeks, so it’s not about current events. It’s always wise to let rants sit, but even after that, I decided to post it.
We liberals like to think that we are above intolerance. Righteousness, we think, is for the right. Wing, that is.
Excuse me while I laugh my ass off, because I’ve come face-to-face with the very epitome of left-wing righteousness.
Listen, I’m guilty of thinking that way, myself. A very dear friend likes to remind me when he notices me making a judgment of the kind I purport to not like in others.
That’s what good friends do, you know. They ping you on your stuff and then love you anyway. Maybe even because of your open-ness about your stuff. Thank you, P!
What really happened
Here’s who I keep thinking of: the people of my political persuasion who celebrated when John Boehner resigned as Speaker of the House.
Do they realize WHY he resigned?
He resigned because he wanted to compromise with the Democrats to keep the government going, but the super-right-wing House Republicans didn’t want him to. Rather than budge an inch, they wanted their doctrinaire views to prevail so the government would shut down. That’s how dysfunctional they are. But Boehner? He wanted to compromise. Yes, he actually wanted to govern.
He resigned because, in that circumstance, he couldn’t be effective. So, I wasn’t celebrating with my fellow progressives.
Hey look, he’s not my cup of tea. BUT. Knowledgeable progressives knew that Boehner’s resignation did not bode well for Republican cooperation with the Democratic president. They realized that his resignation meant someone less open would be put in that position. Someone more extremist.
And poof! That happened. Here’s one story about it.
Yeah, let’s all celebrate the benefit to our progressive agenda. NOT.
Let’s not be so simplistic in our thinking. Instead, let us wake up and be realistic about what just happened. And about everything else going on today in our increasingly polarized world.
Rush to judgment
Let us also talk about the “rush to judgment” that is fed by the content of most of the news media we consume.
The 5th and 14th amendments contain clauses that deal with something called due process as it relates to the administration of justice. You remember justice, don’t you?
It’s the process or result of using laws to fairly judge and punish crimes and criminals.
Laws. That doesn’t mean we make up our minds that someone did or didn’t do something and want them punished outside of the law. Due process is…due them. Everyone. All of us. Yes, even YOU.
Due process protects every citizen from the arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the Government outside the sanction of law. It is a Constitutional right, not an opinion.
What, you think that you know if someone is guilty or not? Because you saw something on TV news? That’s delusional thinking. Hey, determining guilt or innocence is what courts are for, did you forget?
Some of my fellow liberals jumped for joy when the school resource officer in South Carolina was fired without due process. On the basis of a video televised over and over, they had already decided he had “brutalized” a student. They were judge and they were jury. The sentence, they felt, was fair.
Would they feel the same way if they had been deprived of due process?
That would be different.
Hello, how many of us are even paying attention to what it means to deprive someone, anyone, of due process? That our whole justice system would fall apart? Left, right, it’s all the same. We get due process. It is our right.
Suppose a right-wing militia decided to police according to their values. Because I’d bet dollars to donuts that’s more apt to happen than an organized bunch of my fellow progressive armed with, what, our superior attitudes? Our own righteousness? Suppose that militia decided to deprive everyone who thought differently of due process. How would you like that?
Not much, I’ll bet.
I’m a little touchy on this subject because a) some of the smartest, most caring friends in my life are now or have retired as police officers. I know a little about their daily work lives It’s a job most of my fellow progressives wouldn’t do for a million bucks. And b) I’m also touchy because a fellow progressive I know felt my defense of due process for that officer was unconscionable. (Even though I clearly stated that I felt he should not have thrown that student across the room.)
Umm. No. It’s Constitutional. And yes, it’s possible to be progressive and not rush to judgment. Try it sometime.
The cushion of self-righteousness
I abhor the righteousness we see every day, as if there is only one light and it’s the one light we believe in.
Life is way more complicated than that, and people who don’t see that, well, are not even looking.
Intolerance doesn’t belong to one political side or another. It’s become our way of life. I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to tar the right-wing with that brush. But, now I see it on the left, too.
It makes me more than nervous. It makes me a little sick.
As a society, we no longer even try to understand another point of view. We sit as judge and jury, fat and happy on our cushion of self-righteousness. Yes, that blue pillow above. So comfy!
So NOT comfortable.
When we delude ourselves that we know everything based on the limited and sensational news we get fed daily, we’re, well, delusional. It’s delusional thinking. When we think we know enough to decide that someone should get punished and we’re not a member of their jury? We’ve lost sight of the American Way. And the Constitution.
So, let’s get real.
I get that realism is hard as a rock. It’s not as comfortable.
But it’s where I sit.
There’s plenty of room left. Anyone want to join me?