I realized what was great about our country today. I was listening to the Howard Stern Show, and he had on Glenn Miller, a nut-case from Missouri who is running for Senator. Miller is the first person to (openly) run on the "Anti-Jew" platform. From what little I listened to the interview before I had to leave my car, Miller believes that Jews control America, and he wants to get into the Senate to try to help America get free of its Jewish Burden. On a side note, he is also not a fan of blacks, hispanics or gays, but the Jews, in his opinion, are the worst.
Glenn Miller and I agree on nothing. He is a racist, sexist, homophobic whack job who takes as gospel the word of Louis Farrakhan (gulp) and Pat Buchanan (double gulp). When Howard asked him about his anti-Jewish stance, Miller used Buchanan and Farrakhan was a way to make his ideas sound not-crazy, as in, "well Buchanan believes this and Farrakhan does as well so obviously that gives my thoughts credence." The fact that Buchanan and Farrakhan are universally laughed at and thought of as nutcases themselves apparently does not occur to Miller.
But here is what is great about our country - Miller has every right to speak his mind, as crazy as he sounds. (Although crazier still - and sadder still - is the thought that there are people out there who agree with him.)
Ignoring that, our country allows people like Miller to say what they want to say, to run for government if they wish, to go on national radio shows and tell us how they feel about things without fear of going to jail. And to give credit to Stern, he treated Miller like he would any other guest, asking questions and not trying to argue with him about his crazy ideas. It was obvious that Howard did not agree with Mr. Crazy Man, but he also recognized that an argument would not make for good radio - letting Miller spout his wacky thoughts was much funnier.
There is a Facebook page for "Making It Illegal To Protest Army Funerals." Apparently an extremist right-wing "Church" (I put "Church" in quotations because I refuse to believe any true Church would be as hateful as this group is) protested the funeral of an Army soldier with signs that basically said our brave men and women were dying in a war that was brought onto America because our country allows gay people to live here.
Again, ignoring the craziness of their opinions (and the sadness that there are people who actually buy into this crap), what makes America beautiful is that these people are allowed to protest at a funeral. Whether or not they see the irony that they were protesting the death of a soldier who was fighting for their ability to protest his death, I do not know. I am guessing not. The father of this soldier sued the protesters for emotional pain, and the judge ruled in the "Church's" favor.
Does that suck? Of course it does. Do I agree with the judge's decision? Of course I do. People have every right to protest whatever they want. His own son went to fight a war so that these whack-jobs could protest whatever they want. (Another argument for another day - whether or not fighting in a war halfway across the world actually does protect our freedoms. I say not.)
But the people who became fans of this page on Facebook, and the father of this soldier, are missing the point. Being American means accepting different opinions, religious, sexual orientations, races, no matter how much they differ from our own. Living in America gives us the right to express our opinions, no matter how crazy. If we start making it illegal to protest, we lose what makes us Americans.
Freedom of Speech is a great power, but with great power comes great responsibility, and most people aren't mature or smart or informed enough to handle that responsibility.
For example, I have a blog.