“Forcing” Beliefs On People

Just a quick rant about something that’s caught my attention lately. I keep hearing people complain about others trying to “force their beliefs” on them.

If you dared to vote for California’s Proposition 8, you’re trying to force your beliefs on others, some say. If you have the audacity to ask people if you can share your beliefs with them, or let your beliefs inform how you live your public life, you’re also trying to force your beliefs on others.

I want to argue against such convenient double standards, but you know what? I think it might be healthier to address it from the other direction.

Yes, I’m trying to “force” my beliefs on you. If by “force” you mean that I’m striving to influence the world, by legislation and by individual conversion, to ways of life that I deeply feel to be preferable, then yes, absolutely I am.

And so are you. We all are. That’s the beauty of our free society. The marketplace of ideas guarantees that we get to do these things. Nobody gets to physically coerce anybody else, nor do we get to harass or punish others for choosing not to adopt our beliefs, or for supporting a contrary position, but that’s the nature of the civilized world: you get to think and say what you want, but others get to, also. You don’t have to listen to them, but you can’t shut them down.

When I voted for a traditional marriage amendment to my state’s constitution, was I trying to force my beliefs on you? Within the framework that such things have always been inherently appropriate in our nation, yes. When you voted for Obama, you were trying to force a set of leftist beliefs on me. And you won. And you know what? That’s OK, because that’s how the system works.

So if you don’t like some policy or belief that someone else is stumping for, you get to ignore them or debate them, but you do not have the right to censor them.

There is such a thing as the American Way, and that’s it.

7 comments on ““Forcing” Beliefs On People

  1. Since when did political discourse and debate of the issues of the day become hate speech? Oh yes, at the same time that living a homosexual lifestyle became a “right.” As with others, I find that my feelings on the issue of gay marriage are a bit complicated. The gulf of misunderstanding and outright hostility between those that are pro-gay marriage and those against grows ever wider, dividing my family and friends alike.

    It is essential for the future of our country that we restore a greater understanding and respect for the U.S. Constitution. Right now I see such complete ignorance among the pro-gay marriage crowd as to what “my constitutional rights” really are, and how they interact with “other people’s constitutional rights.” It is this ignorance about the foundation of our country, borne and nurtured by a minority of ultra-liberal public school teachers with anti-American agendas, that is bearing such bitter fruit.

    For more, visit the designated conservative at http://dcon2012.wordpress.com.

  2. If this isn’t my favorite post on your blog, then it is in my top three. Absolutely, one hundred and fifty three percent brilliant.

    Here’s the one that I love. “You can’t legislate morality.” Wh-wh-what? Really? What about all those crazy laws on the books about killing others, taking stuff, and having to keep clothes on in public. What exactly is that? We’d better get those repealed, those right wing nut jobs are trying to legislate morality again!

  3. For the same reasons that I’m concerned about how often strangers default on loans or declare bankruptcy, or how involved strangers are in being active parents to their children, or how literate strangers are in political issues and history before voting: because all those “private, individual” choices that don’t bear on me directly have a way of adding up and making a huge difference in the quality of life in this country.

  4. I see in no way how that could affect you. Just because others don’t follow suit in Christian, right wing, male dominating, American dream doesn’t mean they’re wrong. You seem a close-minded (synonym – ignorant) person and can only hope that one day you become comfortable enough with yourself to accept others as they are.

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