Of course, I don’t mean that literally. It’s an extreme statement for the purpose of calling attention to an opinion. You know, like calling a presidential candidate a “faggot,” or comparing another to Stalin or Hitler -- hateful, histrionic statements that sneak in the back door of a free society disguised as legitimate discourse, without even the pretense of shedding any legitimate light on a debate, much like the sick, noxious verbal flatulence that emanates from the mouths of Limbaughs of the world.
But, as vile as these statements can be, as abhorrent to basic human decency, it is wrong to advocate violence as a response. The wonderful thing about living in a democracy is that all thoughts are free to be expressed, even those so onerous and hateful that you’d really just like to grab the speaker by her Afghan-like mane and, in the name of all that is good, smash her face into a brick wall until that smug, twisted smile melted off her lips and dripped onto the sidewalk. Figuratively speaking, of course.
I am against violence. It’s a bold stance, I know, but I’m taking it here and now. Violence is the language of the ignorant. The response to conflict by the cruel, and diseased of spirit. A free and open society is predicated on the idea that people holding different points of view can come together in a Socratic search for Truth, each with the same goal of improving the quality of life on the planet, but with perhaps different opinions on how to accomplish it. In the spirit of a free exchange of ideas, it is wrong to demonize the other side, however sick, selfish, and self-aggrandizing they can be. Granted, when hearing this kind of hate speech, it isn’t always easy to quell the rising tide of righteous indignation and resist the urge throw the speaker down on the pavement and stomp the life out of her, like Donald Sutherland did to that obnoxious brat at the end of Day of the Locusts. But, no one should do that.
Even though the headline of this piece was exaggerated, a modest proposal, simply to make a point, I hope people realize it was not meant literally. I sincerely hope nobody shoots Ann Coulter. Because as much as hate speech can inspire violence, in this country we don’t silence people for their opinions, even when those opinions have no basic value and intent beyond calling attention to the speaker in some petty, childish cry for attention, perhaps the attention that was missing a child. Of course, we muzzle vicious, rabid dogs. We remove public servants from office for making vile statements. We take the criminally insane off the street and try to heal them. But we don’t shoot them. Because that would be wrong.