Since I’ve started posting here at Wizbang, I’ve found some of my favorite pieces have been inspired by those with whom I disagree. (Yes, David, I’m including you. Hell, I count you at least three times.) It seems that the competive instinct in me isn’t as dead as I had feared — when challenged, I rise and meet it. Something in me won’t let them win without a fight. And now it’s happened again.
Yesterday I wrote a rather provocative piece about the inevitability of civilian casualties during the battle for Fallujah. I expected some response, but nowhere near the avalanche it received. I was surprised (and grateful) to get as much support as I did, but I did have my critics. Most of them were rather supercilious, but one commenter in particular — Sarah — really struck a nerve. Here is her first comment, in its entirety:
“I’m a liberal, but I’d be willing to give up my First Amendment rights if it meant that people like you would not be allowed to speak.
One word: Moron.
Keep up the hatred – hopefully it will get you killed someday.”
I’ll skip the second line, as it’s pure invective. And I’ll only point out the dichotomy of the third one in passing — I’m filled with hatred, but she’s the one hoping I’ll get killed. It may happen, Sarah, but I’m hoping not. And I hope you live a long and fruitful life, with enough time to grow and mature and learn beyond your current limits.
It was her first line that got me thinking, though.
She followed up with a few choice quotes denigrating my intelligence, so my first response was to dig out the old trusty saw frequently attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
But unlike Sarah, I’m going to use my own words. She’s offering to give up her right to free speech in order to squelch mine. It’s a safe offer; neither her rights nor mine are up for negotiations. But let’s look at that a little further. What I had to say was so disturbing, so terrifying to her that she would trade away her right to ever speak out on any issue ever again for the rest of her life just to keep me from further traumatizing her and other “sensitive,” “compassionate” people like her. And my discussing political matters in the abstract is more wrong than her hoping for my very concrete, individual death.
So, Sarah, feel free to stop exercising your rights any time you like. Just don’t expect me to follow your example. Too many people have paid in blood for my right to exercise my Constitutional rights, and for me to disavow those would be to dishonor them.
Go back to your books, Sarah. You’ll find them much more obliging than real people. Your books will only tell you what you want to hear, and you don’t have to be afraid of them actually having the gall to argue with you.
(Author’s note: Sorry, James, your comments were simply more of the “same old same old.” I did read what you wrote; it was just that Sarah managed to find something new to say that set me off. I always give more attention to original stupidity over recycled stupidity. Better luck next time.)
Update: Link corrected to actual piece. Thanks for catching my error, Adam…