February 17, 2008

Looking Forward Redux

I’d like to revisit a previous post because I think I have come to a better (for myself) answer to the question.

In “Looking Forward” we discussed what we would do if we came face to face with the president under various circumstances. I felt my answers and musings were a little muddled because I wasn’t specific about the exact situation involved, and we actually discussed at least two possible scenarios.

When I said I wanted to play poker with him, I was joking that I think I could read him. But it was a joke; I would not find that an enjoyable evening. It’s a similar situation to the beer, really. I’d just rather not.

But back to the specific situation that Leon Fleishman found himself in (first discussed on Barry’s blog which I linked in the previous post, and now Maggie has added further on her blog where you can see more of the link trail and more comments). Mr. Fleishman concluded that if he was going to have to come face to face with the president, he’d wear some small symbols to express his opinions about the war.

I think this is a great idea, which is subtle, reasonable, proportional, and could lead to further discussion if someone is so inclined to discuss the situation. As Maggie said on her blog, people don’t have the right not to be offended. But polite people often worry about whether they are offending people. So, here is a possible compromise. If I were going to be in that situation, I’d announce here that I am going to wear some sort of symbol of peace.

If people are worried about being offended by my small expression of opinion, they can check my opinions beforehand (it’s not as though I make a secret of them) and if they decide they don’t want to be in the presence of someone with my opinions, they can either choose not to attend or they can wear their own pro-war pins. Then we’ll all be happy.

Julie, in her comment on Maggie’s blog, said she doubts Bush even noticed, and I agree. And it’s funny we might worry about the reactions of such unobservant people. Then there’s overly sensitive people. If Bush, or others at the event would be offended by such a small and reasonable expression of opinion, even if it is not customary, they might reexamine the idea of going out in public; it’s a scary world full of opinions out there. If ever, in the past, I’ve said “I don’t want to make a scene” I meant that I didn’t want to be obstreperous1. I didn’t mean I wanted to be completely silent. In other words, there is a difference between reasonable protest and coming off like you’re a nut. I’d call it a good protest if a reasonable expression of opinion is met with an out-of-proportion freakout or attitude of offense.

I want to be the guy who causes the freakout, not the one in the middle of it.

But maybe Bush will become a recluse after he leaves office and none of us will have to face any of these situations.

1 Chuck, I use “obstreperous” at least once per year. It pays to increase your word power!

Posted by James at February 17, 2008 3:15 PM
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It is a very sad and strange idea that a person can't express himself with a small symbol worn on his person. I know a lot of people who wear a cross around their neck. James' cousins, who know I am an atheist, wear this jewelry to my home! I don't take this as some kind of affront to atheism. I take this as an expression of who they are. If my car has a Darwin fish stuck on the back, should I not drive it into the Church parking lot if I'm invited to a function there? The people inviting me know who I am and shouldn't invite me if they don't want me and my conflicting beliefs there.

This idea that you should "shut up and behave," as Fleishman was told, is horrifying. I don't know if it's simply part of the bubble the Bush White House keeps the head war criminal in, or if it's traditional. It is certainly against what I consider to be United States values.

Posted by: Maggie at February 17, 2008 4:31 PM

I have nothing to add to this discussion, but I read all the posts and enjoyed reading them.

"Obstreperous"... damn hard to play that word in Scrabble.

Posted by: Chuck S. at February 19, 2008 1:56 PM

You're just feeling sorry for me because of the sudden lack of comments.

I appreciate your effort.

Posted by: James at February 19, 2008 3:02 PM

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