All opinion equal, all to be respected?


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P David here, posting the following essay, which appeared on my FB feed from my friend, Don Leu. I tried to find the source, and it appears to be from the Facebook page of Lori Gallagher Witt, an independent writer from the Seattle area. But I would not call my search exhaustive or definitive. [TO REITERATE, THE ESSAY DISCUSSED HERE WAS NOT WRITTEN BY P. DAVID PEARSON, AS STATED ABOVE]

The source aside, I am claiming allegiance to 90% of the ideas put forward in the piece. I depart from the author on #7, I agree with the sentiment, but I would say it differently—that NONE of us has the right to impose our religious beliefs on others. PERIOD. On #11—I don’t like using labels like fascist or socialist, but I do agree that there are a lot of very problematic ideas floating around in the ultra-conservative discourse. On #13, I am even more opposed to firearms than the author. A final difference is that I would call myself a practical progressive not a liberal. But in the main this set of positions correspond to my social, economic, and political values–and the author (by all indications, Lori Gallagher Witt) says it all much better than I could. So I am claiming them, and here they are (what follows, I got from Don Leu’s post):

I am a liberal. What does that mean? Probably not what you think it does. In hopes of clarifying the terrible politics in which we currently live, read below.
This was written by Laurie Gallagher Witt. It reflects my views pretty closely.
I’m a liberal, but that doesn’t mean what a lot of you apparently think it does. Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Spoiler alert: not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals I know think along roughly these same lines:
1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. PERIOD.
2. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.
3. I believe education should be affordable. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the US), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.
4. I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.
5. I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, well, it’s because I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.
6. I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that no one should have to work three full-time jobs just to keep their head above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multibillion-dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work 40 hours and live.
7. I am not anti-Christian. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOT illegal; *compulsory* prayer in school is – and should be – illegal). All I ask is that Christians recognize *my* right to live according to *my* beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia law on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me or mine.
8. I don’t believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the *same* rights as you.
9. I don’t believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY DO (spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc).
10. I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices/etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.
11. I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I can’t get over an election, but because I’ve spent too many years reading and learning about the Third Reich to miss the similarities. Not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.
12. I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized.
13. I am not interested in coming after your blessed guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is the enforcement of present laws and enacting new, common sense gun regulations. Got another opinion? Put it on your page, not mine.
14. I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think it’s social politeness. If I call you Chuck and you say you prefer to be called Charles I’ll call you Charles. It’s the polite thing to do. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person?
15. I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.
16. I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?

I think that about covers it. Bottom line is that I’m a liberal because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work 80 hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.




Ok, but doing the point by point hardly covers all because all has to include not only effects but causes and the remedies have to get at cause to be effective, effective at all. So, guns and racism and sexism and homophobic behavior and war and poverty and lack of universal health care and mistreatment of immigrants and attempts to make the country a Christian one exist simultaneously and, the proper analysis, I think, needs to show how they are related, how the one serves and sustains the other. I think two major causes of all of the problems listed are capitalism and religion and these feed one another in ways that affect not only how we are governed (when we should be governing ourselves) but that thing that is common consciousness, the beliefs, reified beliefs, that affect how we understand and decide things pertinent to our individual lives and to our lives as citizens. The kind of delusion that allows for belief I gods, for instance, causes people to believe that the nation, its history and future, has and will result from how human beings decide to act, there being no better principle so great as to immunize the country from bad actions–there is nothing to say that we are and have always been out a path to even a more perfect union, that possibly we are on a path that will destroy the world, that American spirit driving us toward such an eventuality and not away from it. Hearing those who ask a god for guidance or preach that this country is special in some god’s eye makes me terribly angry, angry at the effect of religious belief on the way may Americans think and participate in the process by which decisions affecting all are made. I also find it against basic principles of individual freedom are ignored when children are affected for life by the indoctrination they receive in homes where religion is present, inculcated in beliefs that allow for the impossible to cancel out the possible and even the real, made fearful of not believing enough in what they told is true to not want to seek what is beyond the curtain of absurdity that prevents them from seeing what is real and analyzing it using the tools of analysis humans possess, their ability to collect information and assess its meanings and the I don’t disagree with you, Stephen, but I DO THINK it helps to talk about these issues in a way that can connect broadly, especially to those who would dismiss the label liberal or progressive on first glance. This essay makes the general point that the liberal/progressive agenda is NOT based on the logic of a zero sum game. It’s about extending the rights, privileges, and opportunities to those who don’t currently have them WITHOUT taking them away from those who do. Guns are the trickiest issue on which to make that argument–because the liberal agenda IS to take away guns–those that are made to kill people not game. I support that because I think the right to live trumps the right to kill.


I could say more, show, for instance, that lack of respect for others often has something to do with standards of success that are of the capitalist mindset, insecurities that make many vulnerable to lies that allow for enough self-esteem to get by but that are based on belonging to a tribe that is better than other tribes, membership in the tribe making one better than them even if this one is no good at all…. Guns, to protect the tribe, a politics to protect guns and false notions of superiority, patriotism a religion that promotes better than them reality and leads to celebration of militarism because it makes us superior to them and tougher than them because we are superior, this proving our superiority…..


  1. David


I don’t disagree with you, Stephen, but I DO THINK it helps to talk about these issues in a way that can connect broadly, especially to those who would dismiss the label liberal or progressive on first glance. This essay makes the general point that the liberal/progressive agenda is NOT based on the logic of a zero sum game. It’s about extending the rights, privileges, and opportunities to those who don’t currently have them WITHOUT taking them away from those who do. Guns are the trickiest issue on which to make that argument–because the liberal agenda IS to take away guns–those that are made to kill people not game. I support that because I think the right to live trumps the right to kill.


A major problem in this nation is that we seem to want to associate, converse, and interact only with folks who think “just like us,” not with those who challenge our beliefs, values, and convictions. Just searching for a discourse frame within which to hold such a conversation




And I do not disagree with you but do, after struggling mightily with my strong desire to not be too judgmental of others, after many years of trying to understand and respect other’s points of view, I feel as thought I have disproven the value of my attempts to fair and tolerant with all. I am with you that taking away rights is to be avoided–avoided when it is possible to allow rights while not, by allowing for those rights, more basic rights of others are taken. I, for a long time, defended religious rights, but, the religious right made me review and, in reviewing, from an educators perspective, came to understand how harmful to human beings religion and the religious can be. Overall, in search of principles, humanistic principles to use to guide thinking I could believe in to be fair and just, I arrived at this, that to be righteous, decisions must be both sane and humane. So, I can think of reasons for, for instance, possession of firearms that are both sane and humane. That is where my internal deliberations begin. I must say that that is not where they end. So I live in a state of constant confusion as I try to fashion incontestable truths by constantly contesting the truths at which I have arrived. Disputes over what is truly righteous, even sane and humane, will go on, inevitably. But, for there to be decent and humane democracy, deliberation needs to be both sane and for the purpose of making decisions that are humane. Ignorance gets in the way of this, unwillingness or inability to engage in rational thought get in the way of this and contempt or dismissal of intellectualism and rationality are intolerable.



By lafered

Retired professor of education concerned with thoughtfulness

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