Differing opinions are okay

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 30, 2008

“Expressing my opinion is not a terrorist action.”

Wednesday night I was watching one of my favorite movies, “10 Things I Hate About You” when Julia Styles, playing Kat Stratford made that statement.

It was for me a culmination of an ongoing conversation that I have been having with friends and co-workers for the better part of seven years.

I have been one of President George Bush’s biggest critics since long before he even won the Republican nomination for his current office. I’ve never believed the man should have been president.

I understand and accept that in the last election (2004), he was elected by the people of the United States to his office. (In case you are wondering, it is my firm belief he was appointed to the job by the Supreme Court in 2000.)

There are two things for which I blame President Bush directly. One is the occupation of the sovereign country of Iraq. The other is the loss of the freedom of the minority to speak their opinion.

I’m a life-long holder of minority opinions and, as such, I am a firm believer in the right of the minority to speak in this country. The founders wanted a multi-party system because it was important for both the majority and the minority to be heard in a free country.

It has been bothering me more and more recently that we have lost the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. Just because someone doesn’t share our beliefs, we think it is okay to call them names, point fingers and yell.

In a civilized country, there is no place for any of that. In a civilized country, people should be able to talk about their differences. Sometimes they will reach a mutual place of understanding and sometimes they will simply agree to disagree.

I have several friends I debate politics with on a regular basis. A friend of mine named Jimmy Solomon, who lives in Sanford, is what I refer to as a liberal Republican. I consider myself a conservative Democrat.

There are many, many issues on which we agree, but there are several on which we don’t. We have debated those issues on numerous occasions and rarely, if ever, have we changed each other’s opinions. We have also never been mad at each other because we disagree.

The issue has really been weighing on my mind recently because of the proposed U.S. 13 bypass of Ahoskie. It has been a heated subject with debate raging in Bertie, Hertford and other counties.

While I haven’t stated my opinion, those of you who have read Cal Bryant’s diatribes about the subject were informed that I am for the proposed bypass.

You can yell at me all you want to, you’re not going to change my opinion. I’ve discussed the subject at length with Cal and we remain at odds. We also remain close friends and co-workers.

One of the reasons there is little chance of changing my opinion was best summed up by Andy Rooney in his book “Not That You Asked…”

He said that most people who speak up for or against something in public usually lose my support by being too loud about it.

Those people who are against the bypass have every right to be and I’m sure many, many of them have the best of intentions.

My problem is the few who have yelled at my co-worker and taken nasty shots at Windsor Mayor Bob Spivey among others. It appalls me that people who are seeking support of the community could be so mean and vindictive to people who simply disagree with them.

State your opinion, but don’t be offended when I state mine and I disagree with you. Don’t be personal in your quest because I have every right to my opinion too.

Those of you who may disagree with anything I say have the right to talk to me about it. As long as you tell me who you are and don’t raise your voice or curse me, I’ll talk to you all day long. While I’m on the subject, if you put your hands on me like some of you have others, you’re going to draw back a nub.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Questions? Comments? Snide remarks? All are welcome.

You can reach me at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or call me at 332-7211.

Be careful out there and be good sports.