Contributor Post Created with Sketch. At My Wits’ End in the Culture War

 

Bad-CommunicationI’ve never had great difficulty in getting along with my liberal friends. It is a skill I likely learned growing up with conservative instincts in the state of New Jersey. Most of life can be enjoyed with others without our political differences getting in the way. At the margins however, there are always issues. Some ideas permeate the culture so thoroughly, that a friend will often state what they believe to be an innocuous statement of truth in passing, working under the assumption that all good-hearted people will agree with it. Since I do not share many of their beliefs, the obvious implication is that I am not a good person.

It has always been a character flaw of mine that I cannot allow these remarks to pass without challenging them. Close friends know me well enough to either engage me in a friendly debate on the point, or concede that they probably shouldn’t have thrown the statement out like that. Casual friends and acquaintances are generally caught off guard by my challenges. Issues of taxation can be laughed off, along with any number of others in regards to the size and scope of government. It is only in the culture wars that friendships are lost.

Culture would seem an easy issue for one with strong libertarian leanings, such as myself, to deal with. I don’t care how you live your life, or who you share it with, provided you not encroach upon the rights of others. My world view is inherently easy to get along with. I am supportive of same-sex marriage and disapprove of institutionalized discrimination. These facts buy me nothing though when I challenge media lies about Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Some friends know me well enough that when I defend the law by pointing out that RFRA laws have existed for greater than 20 years without a single instance of them being used to allow discrimination, that I probably know what I’m talking about. Others become convinced I am a gay-bashing bigot who they would no longer like to know.

While a friend and I were discussing the nerdiest of all nerd activities (conventions), I mentioned that I was likely going to GenCon this year. She asked where it was held (Indianapolis), then proceeded to drop her innocuous statement of truth. “Well, I won’t be going to Indiana anytime soon.”

Such a simple phrase to let slide. She was signaling to me that she supports same-sex marriage and gay rights. She is no legal scholar. Did it really matter if she had the wrong impression of the RFRA? Maybe not to others, but it did to me. She had unwittingly cast the people of Indiana as villains, and based entirely on a false media narrative. Those that disagree with her are not evil, and they are not bigots. Maybe if she were to know that I support the RFRA, knowing what she does about my character, she might see her opponents in a different light.

Or maybe, as may have happened, I’d lose a friend. Her disposition toward me rapidly changed. She had sent me a signal to prove I was a good person. That test was my position on the RFRA. I failed. That the test was faulty did not matter. I am now a bad person in her mind, or at least, not a virtuous one. She may never see me the same way again.

Having friendships that span across the political spectrum is a great boon to a free society. It keeps us from casting our opposition as caricatures, but rather real, honest people who have honest disagreements without animus. Increasingly, it is difficult to maintain such relationships.

The most likely outcome is that my more liberal friends will self-select themselves into friendships with only those who share their world view, or who at least will never challenge them on these points of contention. I will be forced to into a similar position. Without these bonds of friendship bridging the gaps between us, our positions will grow increasingly intolerant of each other, until one day, we find ourselves enemies.

It’s a damn waste.

There are 118 comments.

  1. Basil Fawlty Member

    It’s never a waste to discover that a friend is an idiot.

    • #1
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:05 PM PST
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  2. Done Contributor
    Done Post author

    Basil Fawlty:It’s never a waste to discover that a friend is also an idiot.

    She’s not. This is exactly the type of caricature that I avoid making by having her as a friend.

    • #2
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:08 PM PST
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  3. Stad Thatcher

    One unintended consequence of the Indiana RFRA law is that if all these people opposed to it want to boycott the state, or even move anyway, Indiana will be left with a better class of people – people who are tolerant, respect religion, and who think instead of react. I’ll bet even a lot of gay folks stay in Indiana because they know the truth . . .

    • #3
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:09 PM PST
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  4. namlliT noD Member

    Frank Soto: She asked where it was held (Indianapolis), then proceeded to drop her innocuous statement of truth. “Well, I won’t be going to Indiana anytime soon.”

    That would be, uh, discrimination.

    • #4
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:12 PM PST
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  5. Done Contributor
    Done Post author

    Stad:One unintended consequence of the Indiana RFRA law is that if all these people opposed to it want to boycott the state, or even move anyway, Indiana will be left with a better class of people – people who are tolerant, respect religion, and who think instead of react. I’ll bet even a lot of gay folks stay in Indiana because they know the truth . . .

    But let’s look at the big picture. If the conservatives isolate themselves in the red states, and the liberals isolate themselves in the blue states, how do we ever have anything besides venom and hatred between us?

    How is our argument ever made to them if we both agree to isolate ourselves? How does isolation work when we have such an intrusive federal government?

    • #5
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:12 PM PST
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  6. Stad Thatcher

    Frank Soto:

    Basil Fawlty:It’s never a waste to discover that a friend is also an idiot.

    She’s not. This is exactly the type of caricature that I avoid making by having her as a friend.

    Same here. The friends I have that are either gay or liberals are not stupid. However, they can get caught up in the frenzy and the rhetoric, and become highly sensitized to dissenting opinions. Just say “Call me when you calm down” and walk away.

    • #6
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:12 PM PST
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  7. namlliT noD Member

    Frank Soto: Some ideas permeate the culture so thoroughly, that a friend will often state what they believe to be an innocuous statement of truth in passing, working under the assumption that all good-hearted people will agree with it.

    I think it would only be polite for you to do the same.

    • #7
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:14 PM PST
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  8. Basil Fawlty Member

    Frank Soto

    Basil Fawlty:It’s never a waste to discover that a friend is also an idiot.

    “She’s not. This is exactly the type of caricature that I avoid making by having her as a friend.”

    Her statement about Indiana convicts her of idiocy. Being your friend and being an idiot are not mutually exclusive. Unless you’re an idiotphobe.

    • #8
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:20 PM PST
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  9. Sandy Member

    Yes to everything you wrote here, Frank, including the fact that your libertarian views will generally get you almost nowhere. One of the saddest aspects of this is that much of it could be avoided if only people followed simple rules of politeness. I find that I can get along with even very left-wing people who are polite and kind. Should such people discover my views, they tend to change the subject, which I consider a gift.

    Perhaps it is a little easier, though, for a female, because if one uses “feel” instead of “think” or “believe,” or if one relies on personal stories to make a point, resulting discussions seem to be milder. I suspect many men would prefer not to talk about their political views in terms of feelings. I don’t much like it myself, but I’ve resorted to it.

    Then there are people who would, I know, be friendly enough, but whose even silently held political views I simply cannot stomach. I find it especially difficult to be friends with people who should have known better when they voted for Obama a second time. Inevitably there is some self-selection on both sides.

    • #9
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:23 PM PST
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  10. Done Contributor
    Done Post author

    Basil Fawlty:Frank Soto

    Basil Fawlty:It’s never a waste to discover that a friend is also an idiot.

    “She’s not.This is exactly the type of caricature that I avoid making by having her as a friend.”

    Her statement about Indiana convicts her of idiocy.Being your friend and being an idiot are not mutually exclusive.Unless you’re an idiotphobe.

    It does not make one an idiot to be unaware that you’ve been lied to. I don’t want to live in a world where we can only throw charges of idiocy around when we disagree.

    • #10
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:23 PM PST
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  11. Guruforhire Member

    Frank Soto:

    Stad:One unintended consequence of the Indiana RFRA law is that if all these people opposed to it want to boycott the state, or even move anyway, Indiana will be left with a better class of people – people who are tolerant, respect religion, and who think instead of react. I’ll bet even a lot of gay folks stay in Indiana because they know the truth . . .

    But let’s look at the big picture. If the conservatives isolate themselves in the red states, and the liberals isolate themselves in the blue states, how do we ever have anything besides venom and hatred between us?

    How is our argument ever made to them if we both agree to isolate ourselves? How does isolation work when we have such an intrusive federal government?

    You act like there is some magical alternative.

    • #11
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:23 PM PST
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  12. Done Contributor
    Done Post author

    Guruforhire:

    Frank Soto:

    Stad:One unintended consequence of the Indiana RFRA law is that if all these people opposed to it want to boycott the state, or even move anyway, Indiana will be left with a better class of people – people who are tolerant, respect religion, and who think instead of react. I’ll bet even a lot of gay folks stay in Indiana because they know the truth . . .

    But let’s look at the big picture. If the conservatives isolate themselves in the red states, and the liberals isolate themselves in the blue states, how do we ever have anything besides venom and hatred between us?

    How is our argument ever made to them if we both agree to isolate ourselves? How does isolation work when we have such an intrusive federal government?

    You act like there is some magical alternative.

    If you have liberal friends you find that there is. Their views are often tempered by knowing me and having me act as a check on the crazier things they might other wise believe. We don’t view each other as enemies, or evil, or idiots.

    I am lamenting that this was once easier in my experience, and is now becoming quite difficult.

    • #12
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:26 PM PST
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  13. Guruforhire Member

    Frank Soto:

    Guruforhire:

    Frank Soto:

    Stad:One unintended consequence of the Indiana RFRA law is that if all these people opposed to it want to boycott the state, or even move anyway, Indiana will be left with a better class of people – people who are tolerant, respect religion, and who think instead of react. I’ll bet even a lot of gay folks stay in Indiana because they know the truth . . .

    But let’s look at the big picture. If the conservatives isolate themselves in the red states, and the liberals isolate themselves in the blue states, how do we ever have anything besides venom and hatred between us?

    How is our argument ever made to them if we both agree to isolate ourselves? How does isolation work when we have such an intrusive federal government?

    You act like there is some magical alternative.

    If you have liberal friends you find that there is. Their views are often tempered by knowing me and having me act as a check on the crazier things they might other wise believe. We don’t view each other as enemies, or evil, or idiots.

    I am lamenting that this was once easier in my experience, and is now becoming quite difficult.

    Because I am friends with leftists my opinion of leftists is lower, because its not just internet trolls which are whipping themselves into an extremely ugly and dangerous frenzy.

    • #13
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:29 PM PST
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  14. Sandy Member

    Frank Soto:

    Stad:One unintended consequence of the Indiana RFRA law is that if all these people opposed to it want to boycott the state, or even move anyway, Indiana will be left with a better class of people – people who are tolerant, respect religion, and who think instead of react. I’ll bet even a lot of gay folks stay in Indiana because they know the truth . . .

    But let’s look at the big picture. If the conservatives isolate themselves in the red states, and the liberals isolate themselves in the blue states, how do we ever have anything besides venom and hatred between us?

    How is our argument ever made to them if we both agree to isolate ourselves? How does isolation work when we have such an intrusive federal government?

    You seem to suggest that this is a new phenomenon, but I think it is not. I don’t have statistics, but the admonition not to discuss politics (or religion or sex) in polite company is a very old one. No one is ever able to find a community of exactly like-minded people, but I suggest that people always have been more comfortable around those who at least share some of their values.

    Re: venom, I have some hope that the failures of this administration will moderate at least some progressives, but then I’m an optimist.

    • #14
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:30 PM PST
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  15. captainpower Inactive

    Props to you for taking the risk. You made it sound easy as a matter of course. I don’t find it easy, but I think it’s the right thing to do.

    Wasn’t there a cultural norm in America that you don’t talk religion, sex, or politics at work?

    I try to abide by that, but as Dennis Prager says, liberals are trying to make everything political. That’s why they are encroaching on ESPN, Football, etc.

    Then they act like there is only one “good and moral” position so they state it proudly.

    Seems like holding to the traditional views of keeping irrelevant opinions to oneself is valued more highly on the conservative side of the spectrum.

    • #15
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:33 PM PST
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  16. DocJay Inactive

    Frank Soto:

    Stad:One unintended consequence of the Indiana RFRA law is that if all these people opposed to it want to boycott the state, or even move anyway, Indiana will be left with a better class of people – people who are tolerant, respect religion, and who think instead of react. I’ll bet even a lot of gay folks stay in Indiana because they know the truth . . .

    But let’s look at the big picture. If the conservatives isolate themselves in the red states, and the liberals isolate themselves in the blue states, how do we ever have anything besides venom and hatred between us?

    How is our argument ever made to them if we both agree to isolate ourselves? How does isolation work when we have such an intrusive federal government?

    The polarization of society is only going to get worse.

    Be ready for 24/7 gay issues this election. I can cheer for neither side.

    • #16
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:35 PM PST
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  17. Basil Fawlty Member

    “It does not make one an idiot to be unaware that you’ve been lied to. I don’t want to live in a world where we can only throw charges of idiocy around when we disagree.”

    I beg to differ. To be incapable of distinguishing truth from lies is a pretty good sign of idiocy. No need to throw charges around. Just adjust your relationship to the reality. Some friends may be idiots. You don’t take their political views seriously.

    • #17
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:36 PM PST
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  18. DocJay Inactive

    Basil Fawlty:“It does not make one an idiot to be unaware that you’ve been lied to.I don’t want to live in a world where we can only throw charges of idiocy around when we disagree.”

    I beg to differ.To be incapable of distinguishing truth from lies is a pretty good sign of idiocy.No need to throw charges around.Just adjust your relationship to the reality. Some friends may be idiots.You don’t take their political views seriously.

    Likely she operates on the emotional level rather than the logical one. I never take liberal women seriously.

    • #18
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:39 PM PST
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  19. billy Inactive

    I am afraid this conflict is going to get much worse before it gets better. The Left wants is waging war on religion and they are pulling many well-meaning people into their campaign.

    • #19
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:44 PM PST
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  20. Ed G. Member

    Sandy:

    …..

    You seem to suggest that this is a new phenomenon, but I think it is not. I don’t have statistics, but the admonition not to discuss politics (or religion or sex) in polite company is a very old one. …

    I’ve never much cared for that admonition. Both politics and religion are deeply consequential issues (for me, anyway). It is precisely with friends and family I most want to discuss these things. Otherwise, we meet situations Frank is describing where we can be left without a means to understand one another on a deep level. Hell, who better to discuss this with than those who love and care for me and who I love and care for in return?

    I’m not saying that I obsess over it or that I always bring it up, but I don’t shy away either, most of the time. Health, sports, weather, gossip, and “how are the kids?” don’t make for very long conversations and they don’t make for deeper more interesting relationships.

    • #20
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:51 PM PST
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  21. Aaron Miller Member

    Perhaps you are confusing friends with allies. Friends can be enemies. It is possible to get along in casual situations and yet approach truly important issues from incompatible foundations. Speaking, eating, and playing together is not the same as living together in peace as neighbors.

    I have had very liberal friends who were kind to me and genuinely discussed important matters without hostility. Their peaceful manners do not translate into peaceful politics. Their political actions enslave us all (particularly conservatives, whom they would silence and overrule).

    Occasionally, individuals are awoken to good sense and respect for freedom. Those connections across boundaries can enlighten and aid both parties. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking we are all basically on the same team.

    • #21
    • April 1, 2015, at 2:54 PM PST
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  22. Probable Cause Inactive

    Re: the Indiana RFRA, (and to quote Han Solo), I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

    As you all may know, I’m a Bible-adhering Christian. I don’t see people with other world views as my enemy. But I see myself increasingly becoming theirs. I am uneasy.

    I am uneasy because of the aggressiveness and sheer dominance of the opposing movement. They are so dominant, that facts do not matter. I’ve seen what they can do to Brendan Eich or George Zimmerman or Police Officer Darren Wilson. They have so much cultural influence now, that for-profit entities, such as Apple, who in times past would be hesitant to offend part of their customer base, no longer feel any such compunction. I’d gotten used to the behavior of the media, the Democrat Party and their allies. But for Mozilla, Apple, GenCon or the NCAA to put conscientious Christians in their cross hairs, that’s a newer development.

    I am also uneasy because that which was settled has become unsettled. The 50 yard line is moving, and moving significantly. In Congress, standard Hyde Amendment language, which used to be mainstream, has now become filibuster-worthy (see the recent anti-human trafficking bill). Likewise, an RFRA is now controversial. This isn’t just the old, hey, they’re allowing more things to be legal than I as a social conservative would like. This is, hey you, Christian, celebrate this wedding and pay for this abortion, or else.

    • #22
    • April 1, 2015, at 3:01 PM PST
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  23. billy Inactive

    Aaron Miller:Perhaps you are confusing friends with allies. Friends can be enemies. It is possible to get along in casual situations and yet approach truly important issues from incompatible foundations. Speaking, eating, and playing together is not the same as living together in peace as neighbors.

    I have had very liberal friends who were kind to me and genuinely discussed important matters without hostility. Their peaceful manners do not translate into peaceful politics. Their political actions enslave us all (particularly conservatives, whom they would silence and overrule).

    Occasionally, individuals are awoken to good sense and respect for freedom. Those connections across boundaries can enlighten and aid both parties. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking we are all basically on the same team.

    It is getting harder to avoid the consequences of these political differences among social acquaintances because the stakes are getting so much higher.

    “You will be made to care”

    • #23
    • April 1, 2015, at 3:07 PM PST
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  24. Done Contributor
    Done Post author

    Basil Fawlty:I beg to differ.To be incapable of distinguishing truth from lies is a pretty good sign of idiocy.No need to throw charges around.Just adjust your relationship to the reality. Some friends may be idiots.You don’t take their political views seriously.

    She, like most people, has far more important concerns in her daily life than the nuances of strict scrutiny and legal precedence.

    Those of us who follow this stuff closely are the odd ones. Her knowledge of this issue comes from the press. She relies on them as an authority, the same way all of us rely on numerous authorities to learn about nearly everything.

    When the lone voice in the wilderness tells her that the RFRA does not allow discrimination, it goes up against everything she has been told from numerous sources. It is perfectly reasonable to not abandon her previous stance on my word alone.

    In this case, the authority she is relying on has led her astray, as appeals to authority will occasionally do to all of us. Wrong is not a synonym for idiocy.

    My post is about my disappointment in not being given the benefit of the doubt by a friend.

    • #24
    • April 1, 2015, at 3:07 PM PST
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  25. Done Contributor
    Done Post author

    Aaron Miller:Perhaps you are confusing friends with allies. Friends can be enemies. It is possible to get along in casual situations and yet approach truly important issues from incompatible foundations. Speaking, eating, and playing together is not the same as living together in peace as neighbors.

    I have had very liberal friends who were kind to me and genuinely discussed important matters without hostility. Their peaceful manners do not translate into peaceful politics. Their political actions enslave us all (particularly conservatives, whom they would silence and overrule).

    Occasionally, individuals are awoken to good sense and respect for freedom. Those connections across boundaries can enlighten and aid both parties. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking we are all basically on the same team.

    You’d probably be shocked how less peaceful their politics would be if you didn’t know them, Aaron.

    • #25
    • April 1, 2015, at 3:09 PM PST
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  26. Blondie Thatcher

    What drives me batty is the Left is supposed to be the tolerant bunch. Nothing can be further from the truth. I heard even Coach K was being blasted earlier for having “no comment” on the Indiana law. Seemed the right thing for him to do. He’s trying to get ready for some pretty big games and doesn’t even live in the state. What should he care. I agree with some others that I think this is only going to get worse because it helps the Left keep a stir going. All the low info crowd needs to hear are a few buzz words and they hate the “evil right-wing”. They don’t take the time to find out much of what they are being told is crap or half of the story.

    • #26
    • April 1, 2015, at 3:11 PM PST
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  27. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    In my humble opinion, a good response to the statement “I won’t be visiting Indiana any time soon” would be, “OK, you are free to go or not go anywhere you wish”, and move on. No question of rising to the bait, if you can see no bait.

    • #27
    • April 1, 2015, at 3:13 PM PST
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  28. TKC1101 Inactive

    I agree, it is sad to see a friend succumb to the groupthink tactics of the left. We only have two alternatives:
    1. Drop them as a friend since life is short and time spent with fools is contagious
    2. Co-op their groupthink. Ask them why gays rights supercede Muslim, Jewish and Christian rights. People should be just left alone. We need to be our own oppressed minority. They think in terms of victims, frame it in terms of victims. “Why are wealthy gay lawyers terrorizing lower middle class struggling cake bakers? It just seems so unfair. Anyone who supports rich gay lawyers doing that is a bad person”

    • #28
    • April 1, 2015, at 3:15 PM PST
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  29. captainpower Inactive

    Re rushbabe49

    Like the unacceptabke no comment answer referenced earlier in the thread, making it clear you are not taking the bait is the same as putting yourself on the side of the bad guys. You are either with us or against us mentality.

    • #29
    • April 1, 2015, at 3:18 PM PST
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  30. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    Frank Soto:

    Basil Fawlty:It’s never a waste to discover that a friend is also an idiot.

    She’s not. This is exactly the type of caricature that I avoid making by having her as a friend.

    She my not be an idiot, but she is a fool. The world is full of intelligent fools.

    • #30
    • April 1, 2015, at 3:21 PM PST
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