Donald Trump has been a heavy burden on my psyche over the past couple of years – the fury, the vitriol, and most of all, the deceit. I try to laugh it off but then I think it’s better to drink and forget and do that instead. It was during one such purge that it occurred to me how Trump isn’t unique, that he is the same as so many nameless other millions, to say nothing of the named ones too – Sean Hannity, Larry Flynt, the Koch brothers et al. – and they’re what we’re stuck with if we’re to perpetrate this fantasy of free speech. And, while we should throw these idiots in jail for their hate speech, the reality is that most people suck, and another racist/misogynistic schmuck will just take his place. Which is another good reason to drink.
The cat is getting ready. Apostates are being called out with violence and condemnation. Even the friendly old pope has put himself on the wrong side of the fence: “If my good friend speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others.” The fact is that insulting is allowed (freedom of speech) and punching is not (violence).
The society that condones punching, suppresses any sense of freedom of speech. Punching them is the same as flogging them. Is the same as killing them. As much as one might find these Charlie Hebdos and Larry Flynts a pain, the only thing to be done is eye-rolling and making an appeal for decency. Nothing more.
All of that said, my guess is that a greater conflict is to come in countries that espouse freedom of speech where so many in power maintain the guise of faith simply to avoid a violent reaction from a certain percentage of its citizenry. As personal as the question might be – “Do you believe in God, Mr. President?” – people will keep asking and inevitably the truth will come out. And it won’t be pretty.