everybody say yea!
everybody say yeah!*
A caller to a talk radio show today was upset about all the dissension in America. She was worried about people fighting and political parties fighting and mass media taking sides and drawing swords. I think she was close to tears.
Personally, I like this dissension. I like that we state our views loudly and clearly and we aren't afraid to do so. We happen to live in a nation where we can and do speak out against what we percieve to be unjust government practices. We can call our senators idiots and our congressmen whores. We can meet face to face, in public, and have an loud, strong argument about our president and no one is going to call the thought police when one of us says that our president is the anti-christ. You will not get thrown in a dark, filthy prison cell. I will not be tortured as if I were a traitor to a dictatorial country. 
My point is, I find all this debate and taking of sides healthy. It's healthy that Babs can stand up in front of a crowd of people who have nothing better to do with five hundred dollars than to listen to her shrill rants. And it's healthy for me to be able to call her an insane shrew. Really, it is. Go ahead and try it. Doesn't it feel good? Do you think Ashcroft is evil? Shout it out loud, then. Do you think we can trust Saddam to tell us the truth about his WoMD? Say it, then! Say it!
I'm not saying people won't pelt you with stones or laugh behind your back, but the point is, all this yelling back and forth and protesting and people going on political talk shows and saying whatever the hell they want is a good thing. It's all part of freedom. 
I am exercising my freedom by shouting war now! I am exercising my freedom by sharing views of both the left and the right. I can do that. So can you. Nobody has to follow strict party lines. Nobody can tell you that because you are a registered Democrat it is your duty to vote Democrat all the way across. 
How often do you exercise one of your most vital rights as an American? Do you vote in elections that aren't presidential? Do you vote in local races? School board races? Library budget votes?
Do you realize how lucky we are to be able to vote for the candidate we like best and not have to face blazing guns and raging fists at the polls? Do you? You have the ability to use just one little finger to make your choice known. You have the choice to not vote for the person on your party line if you think he is corrupt or just not fit for the job. You have the right to drag your finger all the way down to the bottom row where the person on the Independent or Working Families or Green or Right to Life or Socialist party's name is printed and push that lever down.
Are your local judges elected or appointed? If they are elected do you know anything about them at all or do you just push the lever that has your party's symbol next to it? Is that person tough on drunk drivers? Lenient with white criminals but hard on black criminals? Are they pro-choice? Make an effort to know about the people who are running for elected positions in your area. You don't know where they may end up some day. Robert Torricelli had to start somewhere. You don't want to be hanging your head ten years from now because you voted for a crappy, disinterested judge just because he was a Republican and now that judge is going to be appointed to a much higher court. Do you know anything about your school officials? Your library board?
This is America. We have the right to know. We have the right to information. We have the right to choose and the right to make our choices known.
Debate your neighbor over the Middle East. Challenge your waitress to back up her words regarding the Supreme Court. Write a letter to the editor. Call a talk show. Speak up. Challenge. Learn. Use your privileges, use your freedom. Some of you have no idea how lucky you are to have it.
These statements do not hold true for people -ahem, elected officials- who march over to the land of our enemy and say these things on enemy soil. That's a no-no, just on ethical grounds.
 That freedom does not include destroying other people's property in the process of protesting.
 Well, they can tell you that, but you don't have to listen.
*I sat down to write about the evils of PMS and this is what came out. I thank you and apologizes to you if you read through to the end.