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Former Councilman: Show Respect, Like Before Facebook

Terry Miller, a former Douglasville City Councilman and candidate for Mayor, calls for folks to show "simple respect for those of different opinions," as we discuss politics.

The following was an address that I recently posted to my friends on Facebook, many of whom wished it to be shared with a wider audience. I have reproduced it here in its entirety.

To all my Facebook friends (especially my republican/conservative friends):

I know that I am going out on a very long limb with this statement but I felt that something must be said about our state of dialogue these days. I truly appreciate your political enthusiasm and participation throughout this election season and your motivation to stay involved in the political process. It is always enriching to share a passion for politics with those who are informed and attentive to the world around them.

But I must say that many (obviously not all) of you have been quite zealous in pronouncing your distrust, distaste, disrespect or even hatred for our President and anyone else on the left, for that matter. Your opinions do not disturb me (you have every right to express them) so much as your lack of consideration for the sensitivities and intelligence of those who may disagree with you. Considering that these are your "real life" friends, colleagues, acquaintances, family members, etc., do you really disrespect us that much to be so insulting? Do you really believe that we, who don't agree with you politically, are dupes, morons, patsies, communists, anti-American, unpatriotic and the other countless names that we've been called because we are not "conservative," or conservative enough. I know just about all of you personally to one degree or another. Is this what you truly think of me?

Understand that I am by no means insinuating that the left is blameless in the insult game. I know that both sides have been getting better in recent years at taking the discussion to new levels of banality and wretchedness. But historically, the party out of power tends to turn the rhetoric up as a means of clarifying their protest and emphasizing their argument against those in power. That being said, this cycle seems to have gotten worse, by a great deal.

I understand the frustration when the other party is in office and you don't feel it represents your world view. But the baseless and petty smearing needs to cease. I know some of you will probably de-friend me over this but it has to be said. However, before you do that, at least give some small consideration to what I've said here. Please stop re-posting the pre-captioned pictures taken out of context, or with slogans about how ridiculous or unpatriotic your political foe is. Please stop re-spouting the same drivel that you hear from slanted "news" sources without actually thinking it through for yourself.

That is all I really ask. Think about what you say (type) before you say it. Think about the fact that not all of your friends and family see the world quite as you do. Show some simple respect for those of different opinions. There are ways of stating your opinion without insulting the intelligence of others. This is not how we communicated before the advent of Facebook when, ironically, we were forced to communicate face to face in reality.

We all feel passionate in regard to our political beliefs. We want the other side to just somehow understand how we're thinking and why it makes the most sense and yet they still don't get it. Why is that? I think it's partly because we've thrown up these barriers to communication that are nearly impenetrable. Why would anyone see your way of thinking when you just called them anti-American or said that their beliefs are going to be the downfall of this country? That's not how you start a dialogue.

I know, some of you think the other side is so far gone that there is no potential for a middle ground. Well folks, let's have a little perspective here. This republic has lasted for over 220 years and has weathered crises far worse than anything we are going through now. And you know how it was done? Through compromise (yeah, that's a dirty word for some) and cooperation! Let's not forget that the Constitution itself was a grand compromise and I believe it has held its own now since 1789 (with some modifications, of course).

So, de-friend me if you must. If you feel that I have in turn insulted you, take me off your list. Shun me in public. Ignore my message. But just remember that at least half the country feels as I do. That's a lot of friends you'll never have.

Terry Miller

debra woodard August 21, 2012 at 05:29 PM
thank you for the thoughtful and well-written posting!

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