My niece, Daffny, posted the following on Facebook recently:
Not seeing things politically the way others do does not make me ignorant, uneducated, ill-read, anti-religion, or lacking in common sense. It means I have a different opinion than you. It means I am looking at things through a different lens than you are (or possibly just watching different news channels). That is all it means.
I think Daffny’s comment was a reaction to her sister, Rudi. Rudi takes politics so seriously, I’ll bet she no longer drives a blue car and has discarded her old BYU blue sweatshirts for right-wing red. During the primaries, Daffny posted a picture on Facebook of a sign with a humorous comment about Rick Perry. Rudi responded with a harsh tirade. Recently I received an email requesting my donation to Romney’s campaign. I commented on Facebook that I thought it odd for a multimillionaire to ask middle income people for money. Rudi posted a personal attack on my page. It was like I’d insulted the prophet.
I’m not sure why people feel it’s all right to say things online that they would not say in person. My cousin Krafti feels it’s appropriate to send me emails with racist statements about the President although she knows we have an African-American daughter-in-law and a biracial grandchild.
Of course, rudeness isn’t limited to the Internet. I dodge political discussions with my brother Dooby who doesn’t mind telling me I’m an unenlightened moron because I think Intelligent Design has no place in a public school science curriculum. Dooby, of course, may only be evening the score for the times I dressed him in my clothes and called him Sally because I wanted a little sister instead of a brother.
Why are 21st century Americans so politically intolerant that we can’t listen to an opposing opinion without anger? Democracy is based on a free exchange of ideas, but many of us shut down differing ideas with insults and name calling. How many steps are there between hate rhetoric and the murderous mayhem we currently see in the Middle East over an offensive film?