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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Other Perspectives

Hey All - February's going from a deep freeze to an early spring.  Not sure if this is Punxsatawney Phil's doing, or someone else's.

Big news in law and politics -  the death of Senior Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.  As expected, for reasons to numerous to mention, this touched off a political firestorm.  However, what caught this blogger's attention was the statement made by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  In terms of how they evaluated cases before the Court, they were polar opposites.  In real life, they were, to use Justice Ginsberg's words, "best buddies."

The way our nation is so divided, this seems almost impossible.  The way arguments on social media so quickly devolve into personal attacks, the way those attacks and their responses become so acidic and vitriolic, it's an honest to goodness miracle that a civil war hasn't already started.  Say this word, you're a racist.  Say that word, you're a terrorist.  Say something I don't agree with, that somehow gives me the right to humiliate, embarrass, and insult you in public because I know everything and you need to be "taught." 

But "best buddies?"  Those whose opinions actually counted, whose findings could potentially become the law of the land, whose decisions actually had more substantial consequences than just hurt feelings . . . How on earth could they be "best buddies" under these circumstances?!?

Here are my educated guesses:

(1). Respect.  Whatever they decided did not extend beyond the four corners of the written decision that the Court issued.  They didn't taunt each other about how stupid they thought the opposing argument was over lunch.  No posturing or posing, because someone just had to be a loudmouth.  No finger pointing or name-calling at the seventh grade level.  Never making it personal.
(2).  Understanding.  Ginsberg noted that after she read Scalia's dissents, in which he ripped apart the weaknesses of Ginsberg's decisions, she was able to make the final draft that much better by becoming aware of those weaknesses and covering them.  No, it didn't mean she was bowing down to his superior intellect, it meant that she learned to write a better opinion after seeing the opposing argument.
(3). Boundaries.  To expand on what's been stated in (1), there are times you, believe it or not, keep it in check.  Maybe give it a rest sometimes.  Maybe save it for another time.  Maybe just because you feel that way is not carte blanche to start the great American debate all.  The.  Time.  Cause.  You.  Feel.  Like.  It.

As Betas, we are often intimidated into remaining silent not to offend anyone.  And then when we do work up the fortitude to say what we think, right or wrong, we are not always prepared for what could be an onslaught of opposition and criticism, because that takes even more fortitude.  

Can you hold differing opinions with friends?  If you're willing to abide by the above three suggestions, you most likely can.
But what if a friend or relative is not willing to abide by them when you are?  Welcome to Beta Male Life 101! 

They don't have to be as nice, as respectful, or as mature as a pair of Supreme Court Justices.  And you don't have to associate with them if they won't.

Don't get it twisted, if they don't hold back from personal attacks on you, especially with an audience, you shouldn't feel guilty about knocking them down a few pegs.  Nevertheless, no amount of proof will make these people change their tune, so don't expect to be a hero.  Do only what is necessary to protect yourself, leave them behind, and find better people to associate with - you shouldn't limit yourself to only those who think like you do, but you should only permit people who can respect your views the way Scalia and Ginsberg respected each other.