I frequently hear calls for more “respectful” dialogue coming from those on the political right. At the same time, those making the call deride progressives as being ideologically rigid, arrogant, and disrespectful of their positions and their values Obviously they’ve mastered the fine art of projection.
I’m all for civil and respectful political dialogue. I always try my very best to understand clearly what others on the opposite side of the political spectrum in which I stand are saying as well the reasons they offer as an explanation for the positions they’ve taken. But something strikes me as absurd, if not impossible, about this request for “civility.” They are asking for civility as they look us directly in the face with nothing but contempt and incivility.
Seriously, how does one have a respectful dialogue with a person who is convinced beyond any shadow of doubt whatsoever that their interpretation and understanding of a couple, cherry-picked passages from the holy book they carry in their back pocket trumps our secular Constitution and the secular order of our democratic system of governance? I ponder this fundamental question with serious deliberation almost every day and I have yet to formulate a reasonable, intelligible understanding.
Case in point: Mike DeWine, Govenator of Ohio, recently singed a bill, SB-23. The bill is commonly known as the “heartbeat bill” because the pushers of this rubbish claim that a real live human being exists the moment a high tech monitoring device is capable of detecting the beginnings of a heart pulsation (about six weeks into gestation, way before most women even know that they’re pregnant). In a few years a new high tech gizmo will no doubt be invented to detect the ruminations of a pulse even earlier than six weeks. Clearly, the bill is just another sly, underhanded, ridiculous attempt at outlawing abortion altogether in the State of Ohio. And believe it or not, five other States have already passed similar bills.
In light of all this, I keep asking myself over and again as if I was afflicted with a bizarre form of brain tourette: how can one possibly have a respectful, civil dialogue and come to a mutually acceptable solution to this dilemna when one side of the debate declares that a few words in their holy book mandates the end to a women’s reproductive rights? For these religious extremists (and their enablers), everything written in their holy book comes directly from the mouth of their celestial deity and therefore the right of women to make decisions about their own bodies is rescinded. Period. No exceptions. Case closed. Dialogue over. These folks are convinced that their religious beliefs should be encoded in and enforced by law on everyone living in our pluralistic, non-theocratic, secular society, regardless of fact and regardless of the religious beliefs held by anyone else. For these folks, the beliefs and worldview of others does not concern them. Their religious beliefs do and they must be imposed on everyone else.
There is something very Machiavellian about this request for more civility because what they’re doing while asking for civility is pointing a gun directly at our heads and telling us it’s either their way or the highway. Or, as their dear leader would say, “That’s the way it is.”
From my perspective, this situation is only marginally different than that of the religious police in Pakistan whipping women in the public square for wearing something less than a tarp covering them from head to toe. I’d love to hear anyone explain how it isn’t.
As an American, it sickens me to the core.