Your Protest Means Nothing If You Act Like A Delinquent

At a very young age, I learned that throwing a fit would not yield the results that I desired. Considering that most parents work hard to impress a similar mentality upon their children, it is actually quite embarrassing that I even need to be talking about the events that occurred in Minneapolis on Friday evening.

As you may already know, Donald Trump made a brief stop in Minnesota on Friday evening to attend a fundraising event in Minneapolis. These events are typical of both parties and, like it or not, they are a common occurrence during an election cycle. Not surprisingly, Trump’s visit sparked an unjustified outrage amongst several individuals who felt it was their duty to publicly advertise their disdain with Trump’s politics.

Now, I am no fan of Donald Trump, and this is not an endorsement of his politics. I will not fault anyone who stands in opposition to him, nor will I insinuate that these individuals should refrain from engaging in a civil protest. As long as they remain civil, they have the right to voice their opinions. However, the events that occurred at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Friday evening crossed the line that distinguishes a civil protest from acts of delinquency.

Instead of protesting in a civilized manner, some of the protesters resorted to various forms of harassment, including pushing and spitting on Trump supporters. These tactics were meant to publicly intimidate those who have chosen to support Donald Trump, and they illustrate the childish attitudes that many have embraced this election season. Regardless of who you support, these tactics are despicable, and there is no room for them in a civil society.

We have become a society that is full of people who attempt to use their twisted view of righteousness to justify their obscene actions. These individuals preach tolerance, but show an inability to practice it when it conflicts with their agenda. They quickly become offended every time that someone disagrees with them, and they resort to childish acts to gain attention.

Here’s the thing. If you act like a child, you are going to be treated like one. Being an adult means accepting the fact that there will always be people who disagree with you. A failure to accept this is an indication that you are failing to accept reality. If you choose to engage in atrocious behavior, you are destroying your credibility and you deserve respect from no one.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone has the right to support the candidate that they think best represents their values. It’s fine to disagree with someone else’s choice of candidate, but you can still be civil with one another. If you think they are wrong, fine. If you think they are ignorant, fine. However, you will get absolutely no where by publicly intimidating or harassing those who disagree with you. This idea should transcend party lines and become a standard that applies to everyone.

Again, regardless of whom you choose to support for President, there is no excuse for acting in an uncivilized fashion. Don’t fool yourself into believing that you are a hero, because you are not one. In fact, you are a coward, and any self-respecting individuals can see right through your charade. If, on the other hand, you are able to remain civil, go ahead and stand up for what you think is right. I may disagree with you, but I will still respect your right to voice your opinion. Just remember, your protest means absolutely nothing if you choose to act like a delinquent.


When There’s a Moment of Silence, Please Shut Up

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On the final night of the Democratic National Convention, there was a brief moment that was meant to honor police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. Dallas County’s Sheriff Lupe Valdez was chosen to deliver the address, and she spoke about the importance of law enforcement and the selfless sacrifice that many have made.

You can watch her speech in its entirety, but it’s safe to say that there was nothing controversial about it. Sheriff Valdez spoke with pride about being a police officer, and put an emphasis on what it means to serve our communities. She also addressed the recent tragedies that have occurred, and the intense divisions that have emerged as a result.

Partisan politics aside, I thought that Sheriff Valdez’s speech was well-spoken. She touched on concepts that most rational individuals can agree upon. She didn’t seek to assign blame, but instead sought to bring about an environment in which we “start listening to each other”. She focused on the idea that it takes efforts, on both ends, to change the narrative and to improve relationships within a community.

Towards the end of her speech, Sheriff Valdez called for a moment of silence to honor officers that have been killed in the line of duty, as well as, their families.

That’s when the rabble-rousers seized the opportunity.

It should come as no surprise that, in the midst of a moment that was intended to show respect to the fallen officers, shouts of “Black Lives Matter” began to break to silence. Instead of heeding the advice that was offered just minutes earlier by Sheriff Valdez, the individuals responsible chose to further contribute to the divisive narrative.

I am all for protests, as long as the actions of the protestors don’t infringe upon the rights of others. I may disagree with your cause, but I will still support your right to protest, as long you do so with dignity and respect. However, please realize that, if you choose to act like a jerk, you are going to be treated like one.

I was taught at a young age that interrupting a moment of silence is not a courageous act. In fact, it is extremely rude and it speaks volumes about your character. If you’re mad that the DNC dedicated a moment to honor fallen police officers who had nothing to do with the recent shootings, fine. Just realize that you can rip yourself away from your agenda, for just a few minutes, and still be a decent human being.

When you interrupt a moment of silence that was reserved for those who were killed in the line of duty, you deserve absolutely no respect. You are discrediting your movement, and are providing a perfect example of why many choose to distance themselves from it. If you want your movement to grow, change your attitude and alter your approach.

Acknowledge opinions that challenge your worldview, even it you don’t agree with them. Instead of dwelling on the differences, focus on the common ground and use it to build a foundation. Yes, black lives matter, but so does every other life. If you show disrespect towards the loss of innocent lives (regardless of their status), you are no better than those you claim to stand against.

So, the next time you are present for a moment of silence, please keep your mouth shut. Put aside your ego, and extend the same respect towards others than you would like extended towards you. There is a pretty clear distinction between fighting for justice, and being an inconsiderate jerk. Don’t treat others how you are treated. Treat others BETTER than you are treated.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall: My Thoughts on the Orlando Massacre

I have spent a considerable amount of time gathering my thoughts in regards to the tragedy that occurred in Orlando. Due to various reactions on social media, I have been torn between speaking my mind and staying out of the matter altogether. However, I feel compelled to speak the truth, even if it leads to undeserved levels of alienation and ridicule.

In the wake of the massacre, there have been a ridiculous amount of divisive accusations being thrown around, especially on social media websites. Instead of standing together in times of tragedy, we prefer to resort to finger-pointing and name-calling. We are so desperate for something to blame, that we rely on our pre-conceived notions to make sense of such situations. This is nothing to be proud of and, in no way, does it solve any of the problems that face our society. So here is the truth.

The truth is, innocent individuals were brutally murdered for no particular reason. To our knowledge, they were targeted based on their sexual orientation. Despite what some may believe, ALL individuals possess an inherent right to life. I don’t care if you are gay, straight, black, white, man, woman, Muslim, or Christian. Regardless of classifications, ALL life is precious, and there is absolutely no justification for murder. Period. My heart truly aches for the innocent lives who were unjustly taken away from this world, as well as, the families that never got to say goodbye to their loved ones.

The truth is, the shooter was a self-radicalized Islamist who was bent on wreaking terror upon our way of life.In the midst of carrying out his massacre, he pledged allegiance to ISIS via a 911 phone call. He had been questioned in the past about possible associations with Islamic terrorists. To deny this, is to deny reason and logic entirely. Whether he formally belonged to ISIS or not, his intent was to kill in the name of a radical force. Unless we recognize this, we will continue to blame one another for the actions of deranged and radicalized individuals.

The truth is, Muslims are not to blame for this incident. It is harmful to generalize, and I refuse to engage in that sort of rhetoric. It is important to realize that there is a difference between a “Muslim” and an “Islamist”, just as there is a difference between “Islam” and “Islamism”. The actions of the shooter are in no way representative of an entire religion, and we cannot continue in our misunderstanding of this. It is important to realize that radical Islamism is a threat to the American way of life, and I would encourage you to do your homework on this issue. However, we cannot fall victim to the propaganda that attempts to classify the entire Muslim community based on the actions of its radical factions.

The truth is, Christians are not to blame for this tragedy. Those who are adamantly against Christianity have attempted to use this tragedy to discredit and defame the Christian faith. Despite the ignorant claims of bigotry, the Christian faith is NOT responsible for what occurred in Orlando. Those who are attempting to shift the blame to Christians are doing nothing but distorting the truth and, furthermore, proving that they know absolutely nothing about the teachings of Christ. Yes, many Christians are opposed to homosexuality for religious reasons. Yes, many Christians want to be free to oppose lifestyles that they disagree with. However, Christianity DOES NOT advocate for the murder of innocent people. Those who do, are not Christians. Period. Don’t pretend that advocating for freedom of conscience is equivalent to brutally murdering innocent lives. If you think it’s intolerant, that’s fine, but stop using this tragedy to justify your own contempt with Christianity.

The truth is, guns are not to blame for this tragedy. You want to have a real discussion about common sense gun control measures? Fine. I’m all for creating a balance between maintaining public safety, and ensuring that individuals have the ability to defend themselves. I could spend all day debating hypothetical situations, but there will be no real progress unless we acknowledge that focusing on guns does nothing but shift the blame. As I wrote in a previous article for Voices of Liberty, gun control will be ineffective as long we continue has disdain for personal responsibility. So yes, let’s have a reasonable discussion about measures that ensure that the public is safe. I agree. But understand that anyone who immediately attempts to shift the blame to guns is failing to acknowledge that there is a deeper problem that plagues American society.

The truth is, our society has developed a complete disdain for personal responsible. No one forced the shooter to carry out the attack. Guns do not function without human action. The shooter made a conscious decision to take the lives of innocent people, and he alone is responsible for his actions. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, shifting the blame does nothing but enable a society that acts without any consideration for potential consequences. Before we start playing the blame game, maybe we could start with analyzing our own hearts and identifying the role that we play in this world.

Finally, the truth is, We are not enemies of one another. Our only enemies are those who will stop at nothing to exterminate the American way of life. We must acknowledge that evil exists in this world. We have allowed ourselves to become so center-focused that we allow ourselves to use tragedies to justify and advance our personal agendas. Until we reflect and look within our ourselves, tragedies like this will continue to occur. It’s time to stand up, accept that we will have our differences, but come together in defense against a common enemy.

So say whatever you’d like. Blame whoever you want to blame. Just realize it does nothing but isolate and divide. It’s natural to disagree on controversial political issues. There is nothing wrong with that. But I’d like to think that we can do it with respect for one another. I’d also like to think that we are bigger than blaming this massacre on one another. We are all American citizens, so let’s start acting like it. I will continue to pray for Orlando, the LGBT community, and all of those affected by this tragedy. United we stand, divided we fall.

It’s NOT About Beyoncé. It’s About the Double-Standard.

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While many Americans were enjoying a traditional American past time, there was, inevitably perhaps, a group of individuals who felt the need to be offended by something they don’t agree with. That’s right, I’m talking about Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance. 

Contradictory to the stereotypical view that conservatives are greedy, rich and racist, I was not at all offended by the performance. Although I am not a big fan of her music,  I applaud Beyoncé for excercising her right to free speech. Free speech and music go hand-in-hand and, oftentimes, the most controversial issues provide the best substance for good music. 

Now, before I get my conservative friends all riled up, I will be clear that I DO NOT support the message that was being conveyed during Beyoncé’s performance. Personally, I think that the Black Lives Matter movement is severely flawed, but that is a topic for another post. However, I strongly believe that free speech is a cornerstone of American society and it is essential that we apply it without a double-standard. 

So, before we get all up in arms about Beyoncé’s performance let’s make one thing very clear: it’s NOT about Beyoncé’s message. What matters here is the double-standard that exists between both sides of the political correctness debate. We live in a society where freedom of speech is only tolerated if it coincides with a specific agenda. Unfortunately, such attitudes exist on both sides of the aisle. 

I’ll be the first to admit that conservatives who are distressed over Beyoncé’s performance are a prime example of such a double-standard. Those who lambast political correctness are hypocritical if they choose to make an issue out of Beyoncé’s performance. True liberty-loving conservatives, whether they were offended by the performance or not, would let the issue die. In other words, if you consistently denounce political correctness, it is counter-productive to demonize Beyoncé’s performance.

The discussion over the double-standard does not end with hypocritical conservatives. Consider an alternative scenario. Imagine if, instead of Beyoncé’s performance, there was a performance that involved the display of a Confederate flag. Oh just imagine how the progressives would rally in protest. If such a tragedy were to occur, in the eyes of progressives, the Super Bowl would be nothing more than a competition that promotes a racist agenda. However, since Beyoncé’s performance promotes the progressive agenda, all is well in utopia. 

Unfortunately, we live in a society where disdain for political correctness automatically classifies one as a racist, homophobe or xenophobe. Individuals choose not to speak their minds in fear that they will be ostracized by society. Saying that you disagree with Black Lives Matter does not make you a racist. Campaigning against Hillary Clinton does not make you a sexist. If you believe in traditional marriage, it doesn’t make you homophobic. Anyone who believes such nonsense is not a true supporter of free speech. 

At the end of the day, I neither condone nor condemn Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance. Why? Because I simply do not care. Beyoncé has the right to promote any message in which she believes. Just as I have the right to promote any message in which I believe. The beauty of free speech is this: no one is forced to agree with it. 

Both sides of the political spectrum must realize that double-standards do not promote free speech. Accusing individuals of traits that they do not possess is not only insulting, but it is also divisive. Instead of being offended by everything little thing we disagree with, why not celebrate the fact that we live in a country where we are free to speak in favor for what we believe. 

Tolerance vs. Acceptance

10513891_872297119496327_2054023484_nI want to take a moment to write about the difference between tolerance and acceptance/endorsement. In the wake of the recent SCOTUS decision legalizing gay marriage nation-wide, I feel as though such a discussion would be quite appropriate. This post is neither for, nor against, gay marriage. My stance is, and will always be, that government should remove itself from the marriage business altogether. However, this post is not about my stance on marriage, but instead, a common-sense look at what tolerance means.

In modern society, there is much emphasis that is placed on the importance of tolerance. We are taught to tolerate those who anger us, tolerate those who disagree with us, tolerate those who come from different cultures and tolerate those who live lifestyles that conflict with our own. When it comes down to it, this mentality is absolutely correct. As a society, however, we run into issues when the definition of “tolerance” becomes ill-defined or misconstrued.

The biggest mistake that an individual can make is confusing tolerance with acceptance. Far too often, individuals are under the impression that, in order to tolerate, you must also accept. On the flip side, there are those who believe that, by choosing to tolerate, they are also displaying a personal endorsement. Neither of these scenarios is the case.

Tolerance, in its simplest form, is acknowledging differences, understanding that differences are inevitable and, finally, having the ability to discuss these differences in a civil manner. Tolerance does not mean conforming to an opposing viewpoint. Tolerance does not even mean endorsing an opposing viewpoint. Tolerance does, however, mean finding a general understanding and having a general respect for all human beings.

Am I “intolerant” because I disagree with the the actions of others? Absolutely not! Am I “intolerant” because I refuse to conform to and endorse lifestyles that conflict with my personal beliefs? Absolutely not! Am a conformist if I am willing to acknowledge personal differences and continue to treat those with whom I disagree with respect? Of course not!

Ultimately, we need to take a different look at what “tolerance” really means. Too often we allow the PC police to use tolerance as a means to force certain viewpoints upon the population. After all, who wants to be labeled as “intolerant”?

In conclusion, if society wishes to be truly “tolerant” we must accept the fact that human beings will have differences. We must not force others to see or accept our point of view. Finally, we must not let such differences prevent us from being civil individuals. The next time you hear someone preach “tolerance” ask yourself this question: “Is this true tolerance or is this an effort to force a certain viewpoint upon others?”

– The Objective Independent