North Carolina is in the midst of a process which is common these days. Its citizens are being asked if words that have meant one thing for literally thousands of years should mean something else altogether. Some members of the discussion are being nice about to each other. Then, there are others:
Not surprisingly, numerous yard signs are on display around Charlotte, where I live: some for the amendment, some against. One house on a busy road between my home and my office has three “Against” signs in its yard, right next to the road. They’ve been there for over a month now and no one has removed them, defaced them, or otherwise interfered with them. Free speech has been honored.
Meanwhile, a friend of mine put a “For” sign outside his house in a quiet middle-class neighborhood. Within days it had been vandalized with obscenities. A few weeks ago the seminary where I teach placed a single “For” sign on its grounds. Since then our receptionist has received what she described as a series of “ugly” telephone calls. Apparently these aren’t isolated incidents — far from it. They’re just two instances of a pattern of intolerance, intimidation, and flagrant disregard for free speech.
This matches up with another pattern, which in a way has nothing to do with this one (seeing that it is related to an entirely different topic). But, I believe the underlying principle to be the same.
If gun owners are such violent people, then why have we not wiped out all the anti-gun people? After all, we have the guns and the motive. What is stopping us?
The same thing, I propose, that is stopping the “For Amendment One” backers in North Carolina from defacing the opposition’s signs: a respect for the rule of law, including the right of others to disagree–regardless of the logic, history, or validity of their arguments.