Sticker Shock Displays Lack of Civility

Listen to the Story

Recently my family spent a wonderful afternoon at the Upper Arlington Arts Festival. Walking to our car we talked about the artwork, the friends we bumped into and the tasty ice cream.

As I settled my daughter into her car seat, a family passed slowly by looking for parking. As they passed our car the mother yelled out to us, “Obama is a terrible man. You should be ashamed.”

She obviously spotted our Obama bumper sticker.

A few days later my wife was putting my daughter into the same car when a couple pulled in next to them. The couple waited patiently in their car for my wife to finish. My wife apologized and said she’d be out of their way momentarily. The couple’s response wasn’t quite what she expected.”We want to make sure you get your lovely daughter buckled in safely; however, your choice in bumper stickers is terrible. Obama is a bad man.”

In 2003 several cars on our street including ours were hit with rocks. We suspect is was because of our John Kerry stickers. That made us consider keeping our politics to ourselves but we don’t want to live in that type of country. However now my wife wants the Obama sticker off the car for fear of what might happen next.

There was a time when I would’ve thought this was crazy talk; but after seeing the unruly crowds turning out for the McCain rallies followed by gun toting anti-health insurance reform protesters, I have to consider what my freedom of speech is worth.In this case I’m pretty comfortable saying that a bumper sticker isn’t worth the health and safety of my family but, is that how this all starts to crumble?

Consider the case of the LC – the music amphitheater in the Arena District. A well known singer was scheduled to perform. He has lyrics that call for the murder of homosexuals and the desecration of their bodies. This singer doesn’t just sing about these horrifying acts, he has also bragged about beating up homosexuals and was once brought up on charges for attacking gays.

The gay community protested. The LC, after hearing their argument, chose to cancel the show.

While the gay community and others celebrated, others saw it as a violation of free speech.

What I believe is lost on these people is that threatening someone’s opportunity at life and liberty is not an act of free speech but an unprovoked attack.I’m not sure what happened to civility in our country but I beg our nation’s leaders to help bring it back. Unfortunately, many of those leaders are the very people stoking these fires of division and disrespect.

Andrew Miller hosts the blog Elephants on Bicycles .

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