"It's a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I'd rather not know." -- Singer Linda Ronstadt
(from John Hawkins' quote list)
The sense of agreement-entitlement, the idea that we should not even have to see or hear views we disagree with, is dangerous. THe following, almost word for word, has happened to me twice at dinner parties in the last few years.
Person: "I don't understand how anyone supports conservatives. They are all stupid. I don't even know anyone who is conservative."
Me: "Um...you know me. I'm conservative."
Person: "Well, if you are try to impose that kind of control on the conversation, and keep me from even expressing my views...I don't know what to say...I just HATE that kind of intolerance."
(incident 1. GETS UP, ACTUALLY LEAVES THE DINNER)
(incident 2. GOES ON TO INSTRUCT ME THAT I MUST NOT SPEAK AGAIN, OR SHE WILL CONSIDER ME RUDE)
I have not the least doubt that many people on the right behave the same way, in reverse. It's just that there AREN'T any of those people in the academy. And those are the people I hang with.
The surprising thing to me is the utter lack of intellectual curiousity. If you encounter someone of at least normal intelligence who holds a view different from your own, wouldn't you want to ask some questions, to try to understand WHY they believe what they do? You can't learn much from people you agree with.
Lenny Bruce, hardly a conservative, had it right when he said, "The liberals can understand everything but people who don't understand them."
That's why one of my favorite people at Duke is Peter Euben. He is an absolute screaming, bend-over-and-moon-the-President, far left liberal. But he comes by my office all the time, and says, "Now, explain this to me...How can you people believe [TOPIC]" and asks a long question.
He always makes me think, and sometimes we figure out that we are just asking different questions. We may not even agree on that. But he is an actual intellectual, interested in the ideas themselves, and convinced that reasonable people CAN disagree.
He isn't such a coward that he has to run away from those who disagree with him. And he isn't such a bully that he has to villify anyone who expresses a minority view. Refreshing.