Vitriol in the public square is at an all-time high. While there have been intense political debates to the point of mudslinging in the past, the pervasive nature of social media makes the current milieu more poisonous than ever. One of the reasons for this is the changing viewpoint many people have of their opposition.
For most of American history our two-party system, with an occasional third-party or independent candidate thrown into the mix, has been divided ideologically. Both parties thought they were right and the other was wrong which produced intense but ultimately healthy debate. This has changed in our generation. Conservatives still believe liberals are wrong; but now liberals believe conservatives are evil. That’s a quantum leap from debate positions in the past.
How did this happen? It’s not hard to understand. Once sexual behavior, marital status, abortion as birth control, and the right to happiness (not just the pursuit of happiness) became civil rights, then opposing these newfound rights became morally reprehensible. Rather than being mystified, we should understand it as a natural by-product of redefining human rights over the past forty years.
When people feel their rights have been violated, they attack. The public ridicule, assaults on free speech, and riots are going to continue. There is no logical reason to expect otherwise as long as illogical interpretations of human rights are legitimized and legalized. Conservatives are now considered evil and need to be silenced and shamed. While liberals pleaded for their so-called rights in the name of tolerance, expect them to continue defending them in very intolerant ways.
Photo: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-DIG-cwpbh-03301]