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Happy Easter

2008 March 23
by Julie Clawson

Happy Easter All.

The quote of the day. After the war-protesters were arrested at Holy Name Cathedral this morning, Cardinal Francis George responded “We should all work for peace,” George said, “but not by interrupting the worship of God.”

Because this is America. Peace has nothing to do with worship, or Easter, or Jesus…

Edited to clarify my thoughts –

I honestly have really mixed reactions to the whole thing.  I don’t think the protest was the best approach to getting the message out there.  As the paper mentioned this morning, doing something like that in Chicago in the wake of the NIU shootings is a bit too much.  Luckily this was a Catholic church and not an evangelical megachurch or the protesters could have been shot on site.

But I understand the need to do something for peace and that yes shocking people out of complacency is needed.  They might have had a somewhat sympathetic audience at the cathedral, but how many people there are actively working to bring an end to violence?  If their words don’t translate into action what are they worth? (and yes I am speaking to myself here as well).  Perhaps the homily would have encouraged some to action, perhaps not.  This is an issue that goes much deeper than politics and should not be ignored by the church because it can be labeled “political.”  If we care about peace, if we care about the Iraqis who deal with real horror everyday, we wont shut such things out of our worship services.  We wont be more pissed off that our “Easter finery” got fake blood on it and that we had to think about uncomfortable things than the fact that those horrific things are happening to real people.

This was an Easter service.  A celebration that God has overcome death – that enemy has been destroyed.  It comes just a week after we remember when Jesus challenged political powers in a triumphal entry into Jerusalem and then marched into the Temple to speak out (in physical action) against the injustices being perpetrated there against foreigners and the poor.  Was what he just did a silly stunt to gain a bit of media attention?  Shouldn’t he just have let the people worship the way they expected to worship over the Passover holiday?

Honestly I’m conflicted.  I don’t know if the protest was useful, but I think something is needed.  What would have been better and effective?  How can the message of Jesus and the hope of Easter be translated into action and not just warm fuzzies?  How can we get over just our comfort and care about the needs of others (in Iraq and elsewhere)?  There are deeper questions here than just the “disturbance of peace” and I think they need to be addressed instead of just brushed aside because something challenges our assumptions regarding what is appropriate behavior for church.

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34 Responses leave one →
  1. March 23, 2008

    These people are my new heroes.

  2. March 23, 2008

    Is it possible he was most irritated because his captive audience (emphasis with sarcasm on the word captive) had their attentions diverted?

  3. March 23, 2008

    I think disturbing others’ worship, their time spent with God and given to His glory, to make a political point is selfish, not to mention counterproductive. People don’t respond to screaming anger…that’s a quick way to get them to ignore any valid points that may follow. I respect people who can make their points without losing their cool, whether or not I agree with said points. I don’t respect grandstanding.

    Was arresting those people the answer? Not necessarily–escorting them out with a warning likely would have been sufficient. But I think they made a selfish decision and I am disappointed.

    I understand what civil disobedience is about…against human authorities it certainly makes sense. But this one seems like it includes defiance against God as well–not because the pastor himself was disrupted, but whatever work God may have been trying to accomplish in the parishioners (whether because of or in spite of said pastor, whom I don’t know), was.

    However, I do have a little food for thought on a related subject, one I would be interested to see addressed.

    Pacifism in one’s actions–not raising a gun or a fist–is easy. But pacifism of speech and thought is another. It’s easy to claim pacifism and then verbally skewer the next person who disagrees. One’s tongue guides one’s thoughts and it’s very easy to guide them down a path of arrogance and hatred…a hatred that is never acknowledged for what it is just because one has decided not to express it with wounds on another’s body. “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt me…” I don’t know about that. Physical wounds heal. Words last forever.

  4. March 24, 2008

    Julie, I understand why the Cardinal’s response annoyed you. It sounds like the disciples trying to stop people bringing children to Jesus because he had something ‘more important’ to do and he felt the opposite way – he wanted to honor what was important to the people bringing their children. He cared about the concerns of the people who were right there.

    But I wonder if what the Cardinal meant (although he could have said it better) was “disrupting a service is not an effective way to protest”. And if so I agree because it seems like the protestors just annoyed people rather than reaching them with their concerns.

    I do admire the protestors for acting on their concerns though.

    Anyway I posted about this on my blog today because I thought it raised interesting issues.

  5. March 24, 2008

    Less violent than war–certainly. However, the protesters’ actions were violent and in that self defeating. Could they have accomplished their stated goal and still not crossed the line of violence? Absolutely. More creativity and less anger would have done the job. Does that mean there is never a place for anger? Obviously anger has its exclamation point but it should never be the whole essay–it looks too much like war that way.

  6. Karl permalink
    March 24, 2008

    I agree with comment 3, and parts of 4 and 5. Sounds like a childish, inappropriate and counterproductive way to vent their anger and make their concerns known.

    They got the publicity they were seeking, and reinforced/proved the stereotypes of anti-war folks in the minds of those who don’t already agree with them.

  7. March 24, 2008

    While I don’t agree with everything the protesters methods of squirting fake blood, George seems to be supporting the Bush Administration by not be outspoken in worship and other public forums against the war. The pope is doing this regularly. It seems that being American may be more important to the Cardinal.

  8. March 24, 2008

    I think the reason this offends me is because they used the church service as a way to get publicity, not so much as a way to speak to a faith community. They chose the seat of the Archdiocese of Chicago to make their protest because they knew of the media attention that would be covering the event. They waited until Cardinal George’s homily was about to begin – not after, when his Easter message might left the congregation prepared for a message of action.

    If their goal was to convince the parishioners that the war is unjust, this was the wrong group. It’s a faith community that in principle already stands strongly against the war. Instead of spurring them to action, it angered people, not because of the message, but because of the way it was conveyed.

    According to reports, the main reason the protesters were doing this was to protest Cardinal George’s (and Mayor Daley’s) meeting with President Bush earlier this year that failed to result in pressure to end the war. This was largely meant to protest the PEOPLE, rather than bring light to the war issue.

    I attended Catholic masses for several years before leaving the US, and the message of the injustice of war in Iraq was a common thread in worship services, from the time the war began. Perhaps Cardinal George himself isn’t doing his share of using his position to speak out against the war, but was this the right way to call him out on it?

    Also, I think arresting the protesters was way too much. Supposedly one is even being deprived of his inhaler right now. Please, let it go. They annoyed some people, ruined some expensive clothing, scared some old people and children, but life goes on…

  9. March 24, 2008

    So I edited my post to include my (confused) thoughts on the issue.

  10. Karl permalink
    March 24, 2008

    Julie, would you be equally conflicted if the protesters were operation rescue types who scared the kids with graphic and realistic looking bloody aborted fetuses that they threw into the crowd getting red paint on people’s clothes, had posters with graphic photos, etc? Most if not all of the same justifying statements could be made – sure, many Catholics in the pews are ideologically on the same page but how many are out there trying to make a difference, etc.?

    To me it’s a time, place and manner thing, not a matter of whether their message was one worth conveying. The choices made by the protesters regarding the timing, place and manner of their protest render me unable to be conflicted over the protest, regardless of whatever merit their actual beliefs may hold. They did their cause no favor, IMO.

  11. Donnie permalink
    March 24, 2008

    These are the sorts of stunts that give me a bad view of the anti-war movement. Or at the least confirm the view I already hold. While I am against the war in Iraq, I was in favor of the war in Afghanistan, so I guess I can’t really be counted as anti-war to begin with.

    The only thing I am troubled by in your post is your seeming comparison between what these punks did and the sermon on the mount. I hope I am misreading you, and if I did, I apologize ahead of time.

  12. March 24, 2008

    Karl – As I mentioned I am unsure about the “time, place, and manner” aspects of this protest. But I am also disturbed by the call to ignore the message because it was delivered inappropriately. Even though I think the church should be the place where the message of peace (and stands against abortion) should be heard, I agree that this church (and most people) obviously aren’t going to hear any message given in this way. But I don’t place blame fully for that on the protesters either. I am conflicted because sometimes it takes a shocking kick in the butt to get people to do anything. Getting upset about being disturbed is a pathetically easy excuse for ignoring the issues.

    I’m sure these catholics heard or heard of the Pope’s message yesterday calling for peace, but honestly what difference did it make? If nice words don’t make a difference, and people get their panties in a bunch over incidents like this, then what does work? This is what I am really struggling with.

    Donnie – I am not sure where you are getting a reference to the Sermon on the Mount. I do think their message echoes the sermon on the mount, and their actions echo Christ in the temple. I think we often forget the scandal and shock present in each of those events and how much they challenged the status quo of their day.

  13. Donnie permalink
    March 24, 2008

    Julie, my apologies. I see now you were referring to Jesus chasing out the money changers in the temple.

    Still, I I think the stunt was poorly timed and done, and extremely disrespectful to those in the church. Fair or not, this is the exact sort of thing that does give the anti-war movement a bad name. I realize I say that as an outsider to the movement, but I don’t see these actions as any different than the anti-abortion protesters who use the shock images to disgust people. I am anti-abortion, but sometimes when I see those signs and protesters, I start reconsidering that stance.

  14. March 24, 2008

    In reference to the questions of “time, place and manner” i’ll ask this; what would be the appropriate time for a protest to be made? 5 more years after America is in Iraq? How many people have to die in this occupation before a protest like this one is “appropriate”?

    In which manner of communication does the general populace of America actually respond to? Outside of some small pockets of resistance (mostly in large cities) Americans are generally far to quiet and resigned on the issue of war.

    We need to be a people of pro-activity, not reactivity. It disgusts me that we call ourselves a “Christian nation” yet have the largest military in the world. What’s Christian about that?

  15. Karl permalink
    March 25, 2008

    Time, place and manner doesn’t have to do with the length of time you wait before protesting. It has to do with how, when and where you choose to make your protest. Should you break into a U.S. hospital’s delivery wing and scream your protest about world poverty and how bad third world mothers have it, in the face of mothers in labor? I’m sure Julie would appreciate if you’d do that to her in a few months. How about choosing the funeral service of a victim of a hate crime to make your point about homosexuality, like the Fred Phelps “God hates . . .” group do? Or berating scared and hurting women outside abortion clinics with cries of “baby killer” and graphic pictures of aborted fetuses? All of those are examples of the medium (time, place and manner) in which the message is delivered, being at least as offensive as the message for those who are prone to disagree with the message giver – and therefore both highly unlikely to change anyone’s mind, and IMO highly unchristlike. This protest falls into the same category for me. Maybe different in degree from some of those mentioned, but the same category.

  16. March 25, 2008

    Karl – I think my issue is that I do think the church should be the place for discussions and actions to promote peace. Perhaps not in this fashion, but it should be happening and I don’t really see it occurring.

  17. Donnie permalink
    March 25, 2008

    Julie,

    We’ll probably have to agree to disagree, but not everybody has a hardline pacifist viewpoint. I’m uneasy with any politicking in church, no matter what the cause might be. I think it’s great that you feel strongly about this issue, but not everybody feels the same way, and not everybody wants their church to be engaged in this issue.

  18. Karl permalink
    March 25, 2008

    Julie would it be fair to say then, that your problem with people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell has more to do with the content of their political beliefs, than with the fact that they used their pulpits to promote them?

  19. March 25, 2008

    This is interesting conversation in light of the Rev. Jerimiah Wright dust up. It is clear that the church did not do enough to stop this war and has not been a prophetic voice.

    The New York Times ran an interesting piece about easter sermons in the wake of the Obama/Wright happenings. It qoutes one of the most powerful pastors here in Indianapolis who leads St. Luke’s United Methodist. Senator Richard Lugar is a member of the church and for the most part has supported the war and has come up short despite his rhetoric in ending trying to end this war.

    not to pimp my bog but check my blog out at mikeoles3.wordpress.com for my take on the methodist church and the iraq war. .

  20. March 25, 2008

    I don’t agree that politics are supposed to be left outside the church doors. Following Jesus IS a political statement. Jesus’ commandments to us include caring for the weak, comforting the troubled, making peace, accepting persecution for righteousness (and that’s just from the Sermon on the Mount). If a faith community claims to follow Jesus, it has to engage in the very difficult conversations of what this means in our society, and what actions that means we are supposed to take.

    I think the problem is when this conversation fails to happen, and political positions are simply dictated down from the pulpit with no chance for the congregation to interact with them. Traditionally, churches don’t lend themselves very well to these conversations. The problem is, when we aren’t forced into personally considering and dealing with the situation, it makes it a lot less likely that we’ll act on it.

    For that reason, the protesters might have been taking a potentially powerful approach – forcing the attendees to actually deal with the realities of having worship interrupted by terrorism. However, it’s a catch-22 because by doing this, they turned a lot of people off to their message.

    I guess I have no better idea, except to have done something like this during a time other than the actual mass ceremony, when people would have been more open to their message – i.e. after the homily.

    In an ideal world, churches would actually use their regular Sunday services to interactively explore the congregation’s responsibility to act on the obligations of their faith. In that kind of environment, the protesters’ actions might have actually made a difference in the way people thought.

  21. March 25, 2008

    Donnie – yes perhaps. It might help the rhetoric of discussions like this not to present the only options as being warmongering and hardline pacifism. Caring for the lives of people, saying the deaths of innocents is wrong, and promoting love instead of fear is easily labeled (dismissed) as pacifism (a term generally despised by Americans and evangelicals). This is not just about politics it is about follow Jesus. I personally would love to know how people think this war in Iraq (an all the pain its caused) fits in with the message of Jesus.

    Karl – Yes and no. yes I disagree with the content of much of what they say. but I also don’t think that their manner of laying blame and promoting hatred is at all part of what Jesus was doing. Yes Jesus was political, we deceive ourselves to pretend otherwise. and the church should promote the same things Jesus promoted even if that means crossing over into so called political territory. we would be pretty pathetic followers of Christ if we roped off areas of our life that our faith cannot affect.

  22. Donnie permalink
    March 25, 2008

    Julie,

    You and I actually agree on the Iraq War issue. My main problem with the anti-war movement is the idea we should never use military force. It can’t be the *only* solution, but I’ve yet to see a viable option for defeating the Al-Qaedas of the world that doesn’t involve some degree of military power. Again, it can’t be the only thing we use, but it surely has to be part of it. (And again, I realize Iraq had nothing to do with the September 11th attacks).

    While generically we might be on “opposite ends of the spectrum” I think we probably agree with each other on more than we think.

  23. March 25, 2008

    Karl,

    “Should you break into a U.S. hospital’s delivery wing and scream your protest about world poverty and how bad third world mothers have it, in the face of mothers in labor? I’m sure Julie would appreciate if you’d do that to her in a few months.”

    Thanks for the manipulative way you go about arguing your points. Nice job. How about not speaking on behalf of Julie and using her as a tool to drive home your own agenda.

    And the examples you gave are not relevant to the subject at hand. But thanks for trying to “stir the pot”.

    Also, i’m not worried about being “unchristlike” as i dont really know what that means and i am not a christian (hence i’m not trying to represent him nor the version of him we have created for our own purposes).

  24. March 25, 2008

    On second thought Karl, i have to apologize for being a bit to harsh and reactive in my response to you.

    Sorry Julie for being a bit of an ass on your blog. I dont want to hijack/stifle any further conversation that might come of the post you wrote.

  25. Karl permalink
    March 26, 2008

    Hi Corey, thanks for the apology. I don’t mind disagreement and discussion but am glad you are willing to do that without resorting to name calling and attributing bad motives where they don’t exist.

    The example may or may not hold water, but was intended to show in an obvious way that there are times, places and manners in which it would be inappropriate to raise even a legitimate concern that deserves attention (such as the plight of third world mothers). Julie and others have pointed out that perhaps political protest does belong in Church, where it might not belong in a hospital. I can see instances where that might be true, and can dialogue with her or you about what that might, or should, look like.

    I agree with Julie that one’s faith should cut across and affect all areas of life including politics, and that discussions of how faith impacts politics do belong in church and in Christian circles. But again I’d go to the time, place and manner concept. The protesters’ actions don’t look like “discussion” to me, and still seem grossly inappropriate regardless of the setting. And even leaving aside whether they were inappropriate or not, they couldn’t have been designed to be less effective (as far as changing the minds of people who disagree or are on the fence) if they had intentionally tried to do so.

    As for being unchristlike, since Julie is a Christian pastor and I am also a Christian, that’s a concern both she and I share (although as you point out determining what would be “Christlike” in a given circumstance isn’t always easy). I shouldn’t have assumed it was a concern of yours as well. But I’d guess that you do have some concerns that your actions be just and fair and loving – even if they take the form of a protest that seems harsh to some.

  26. March 26, 2008

    I come from a VERY conservative town in East Tennessee. About a year ago, the state legislative was seeking to amend the state constitution to include a ban on gay marriage. (It was a completely pointless piece of legislature, of course, as no one was even pushing for gay marriage in Tennessee; just a way to conjure up votes.)

    Anyway, my church got all into it. They put signs up in the front lawn (“Marriage = Man + Woman”), held forums about how to fight against the “gay agenda”, and discussed the subject in sermons and Sunday School.

    As one who believes that constitutions exist to protect rights (no take them away), and as one who believes the Church is out-of-line in its handling of the gay community, I was really discouraged about the situation.

    Convinced that the issue was “biblical,” the congregation felt they were justified in making a political issue a church issue.

    So whenever I think of local churches getting involved in politics, this is what I think of. I think that’s why I like the idea of churches staying out of politics altogether.

  27. Karl permalink
    March 26, 2008

    Rachel, I have experiences that track with yours. Heavy-handed, top-down declarations from church leadership that THIS is the way to vote on a particular issue, or that THIS is the correct candidate or party, don’t sit well with me.

    I’ve experienced that from both sides of the political spectrum. In fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism, I’ve had experiences similar to what you describe (God’s Will = the Republican platform). And also in the Episcopal Church where, at least in our diocese, God’s Will = the Democratic platform and woe to anyone who might question that reigning orthodoxy – it was every bit as heavy handed and closed-minded as what I’d experienced in fundamentalist circles.

    Julie’s suggestion that there should be a place in church for true dialogue on the implication of faith in politics sounds right to me. But how to get there if your faith community is in large majority supportive of one party or the other, I’m not sure.

  28. Donnie permalink
    March 26, 2008

    Rachel,

    My thoughts exactly. The idea of having discussions on politics is nice in theory, but they rarely work out that way, and usually becomes one group pushing their beliefs on another. Despite what many on both the religious right and left say, separation of church and state is a beautiful thing.

  29. March 26, 2008

    I too like the idea of true dialogue on the implication of faith in politics. Also, I’ve found that addressing “non-partisan” issues like the AIDS crisis, world poverty, human trafficking, etc. has been successful even in my ultra-conservative church.

    Great post and great comments! Very stimulating!

  30. March 26, 2008

    Karl, Rachel & Donnie,

    I’m not sure that it’s a fair assessment to say that either the conservative or the liberal churches are necessarily merely following a party line. A conservative church that speaks out against homosexuality is probably motivated first by their interpretation of scripture, not by Republican politics. However, if they start pushing trickle-down economics as biblical theology (and I have heard pastors say exactly that) that might be indicative that political ideology is trumping theology.

    Likewise, a liberal congregation that endorses progressive policies may still yet be driven by their own understanding of Jesus’ message or his vision of the kingdom of God, etc. and not primarily by a devotion to the Democratic party. Just because one’s theological commitments will occasionally bring one in line with the values and goals of other groups doesn’t necessarily mean that they are springing from the same well.

  31. Karl permalink
    March 27, 2008

    Mike, that is a good and fair point. I agree that theology and Biblical interpretation are usually involved for both theological conservatives and liberals.

    However, when you can’t find anything of consequence in a particular political party’s platform that a church or denomination disagrees with – then I think they are letting political ideology color their theology. For example the way Dobson or Falwell at times (with a few rare exceptions) seemed to endorse every single Republican fiscal and international policy. Or the way in which many mainline church leaders endorse every single democratic fiscal, domestic or international policy. If one is an independant who doesn’t agree fully with either the Democrats or the Republicans, the “feel” one gets in such mainline “God votes Democrat” circles is, in my experience, very similar to the “feel” one gets in fundamentalist Baptist “God is a Republican” circles. Oppressive and depressing in both cases. One wears a more urbane, sophisticated and tolerant face, but the iron fist is still there inside the velvet glove.

  32. March 27, 2008

    Or the way in which many mainline church leaders endorse every single democratic fiscal, domestic or international policy.

    Again, since I’m real familiar with mainline circles, I’m sure who exactly you’re referring to. Who in that realm does that sort of thing in the same way that Dobson, et al. does it on the Religious Right? Can you name names?

  33. March 27, 2008

    oops, my first sentence in the comment above should say “since I’m not real familiar with mainline circles”. :)

  34. March 27, 2008

    “But I am also disturbed by the call to ignore the message because it was delivered inappropriately.”

    I can see why you might feel that way. However, let me take some time to explain why I approach people’s actions in that manner.

    As I mentioned before, grandstanding does exactly nothing to sway my view on any subject. A shocking stunt is merely a shocking stunt from an outside view, and it gives me no basis to determine whether the motives behind it are genuine and well-considered, or whether it is simply publicity-seeking.

    I should mention that I am not a pacifist. However, I want to clear up the common misconception that because I accept the necessity of physical violence at times, that I am oblivious to the pain and trauma that violence does lead to, or that I am bloodthirsty in any manner. I simply have a different idea of where and how one addresses the problem of human hatred. (While this may seem like a digression at the moment, I hope you’ll see at the end how I intend to add it all together.) It is my belief that by the point a violent act has been initiated, it is only in a minority of cases that anything but a physical defense will prevent the situation from blossoming into something even worse. The opportunity to avoid the fisticuffs was in fact earlier–it was in what people SAID to each other and the manner and tone in which they said it.

    I believe that the tongue is the rudder that guides our personal “ship,” as St. James said. And if we cannot learn to speak responsibly–to speak only when necessary, to speak truthfully, and to speak with with love and civility–then it is no wonder we will stoke the passions in others to a point where they lose control. AND no wonder that we will inflame our own hearts past the boiling point. If we say a thing often enough, it becomes a mantra to us: if we speak without restraint, soon it is not our mind that leads our tongue–it is the tongue that leads the mind and the heart. To speak with disrespect is to cultivate an attitude of disrespect even where one did not exist before.

    Even to call one’s brother “fool” (as opposed to saying in a non-condescending tone of voice, “Your position is illogical, and here is why”), Jesus equates to committing murder. When you verbally skewer someone, you might as well have used a bayonet. Let me illustrate. In my childhood, I had an instance where someone decided to push me onto the pavement–yet as much as that hurt, that incident is not one I think of very much in later years. It is the times when children spoke cruelly to me, and when teachers defended it or got in on the action themselves, that still haunt me to this day. Those are the things that brought me the closest to snapping…that on one occasions in high school, I am embarrassed to admit, became my excuse to me hit someone. (They did not MAKE me do it, of course, but resistance lowered, I know I used it as the justification.) Words did one heck of a lot more damage than the proverbial sticks and stones: you can verbally murder someone, except the destroyed person still lives, and they must carry it with them every day until they die.

    When I see someone whose conduct reveals that getting their point across means they have the right to show disrespect to others, and when they cannot control their tempers or their glory-seeking tendencies, I see someone who may not be conscious that they are perpetuating the very problem they claim to be the solution to. I see someone who may be a loose cannon, whose logic cannot be trusted and whose motivation may be other than altruistic. When I am losing my temper at someone (or venting about them outside of their presence), I know very well that I am not in full control of myself or my faculties, nor am I listening to God very well in the midst of whatever vainglorious ranting I am doing (and believe me, as a writer, when I do come uncorked it can be a dangerous weapon :-( ). Whether or not those things are ultimately true…I will not stick around long enough to find out. I want nothing to do with such conduct, nor would I (if I had a family) want them subjected to it.

    I want to see in someone that their message is genuine. On the occasions where I have respected a pacifist’s stance sufficiently to give it thought…and I will be honest–they are not many…it is because that person lived it. They did not grandstand, they did not condemn, and they seemed to fully understand the impact of their words on themselves and the world–that words, too, are a deadly weapon that must be handled according to the magnitude of their power and not thrown around carelessly like shotgun pellets. They adopted the complete mindset, not the political position–and you could sense it even from a simple e-mail, a whole aura they exuded.

    You may have your political opinions. But show me that it is not about exalting oneself as superior or putting oneself on display. Show me that it is not about wielding one’s power over others. Show me that it is not merely about opposition for the sake of opposition. Show me that it is not about the self over God. (All of these, I might add, are common motivators for physical violence. But I say again, these attitudes begin well before fists fly!) Show me that you understand the full implications of your position in how you live your day-to-day life, not in how you would handle an abstract scenario that is unlikely to ever occur in your life. Show me that your position comes from thought and prayer, not just sentiment. I’m tired of the personal slander, the false assumptions about people one does not even know in person, the constant need to shout down opposing voices, and the idea that the ends justify any and every means, however nasty they might be (while using that very same logical test to condemn those against whom they protest).

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