Of beams and splinters and freedom of speech

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In responding to my letter about Megan Rapinoe and the recent (and hugely tiresome) trend of leftist athletes complaining about their country, Lori Keller engages in exactly the type of rhetorical sleight of hand that makes reasoned discussion of issues so difficult in our day.

She accuses me of saying things I simply never said, that I said that only Christians are generous, or that Republicans are good and Democrats bad, or that one should never engage in criticism of the state of society or the political realm.

Though, I will give Ms. Keller credit for using my closing line about a “beam in my eye” against me, for it may be rather contradictory for me to criticize Rapinoe, et al., for complaining while I complain about them.

But, my critique differs in an important way, I think, and in explaining this difference, I believe I can also address Ms. Keller’s concerns.

I was responding to the critical actions and words of someone in a prominent position who got there by virtue of her efforts in the arena of sport.

She was the one who was pointing out the splinters in our collective eyes as Americans, rather than expressing gratitude and humility in the face of a great team achievement.

She was drawing attention to herself and her grievances for reasons unknown perhaps even to herself.

And she was painting us all with a mighty broad brush considering she lives in the country that pioneered women’s soccer as a high level spectator sport, that enacted Title IX to ensure more female participation in scholastic sports, that in very short order legalized same sex marriage and provides tons of corporate and government support for LGBT causes.

That someone from a country such as this would use their celebrity gained as a result of kicking a ball to complain that we hadn’t done enough struck me as arrogant, petulant, ungrateful, and just bad form.

I by no means meant to imply that, in general, people on the left are ungrateful or don’t give to charity. I know they do, though not as much as conservatives (that’s a fact; look it up).

Or that we shouldn’t exercise our free speech rights whenever and however we want. But if you do so at a bad time and with questionable intent, I am also free to exercise my right to say you’re being a jerk.

And let us not be confused. Though Ms. Keller may be truly supportive of free speech, others of her persuasion have huge problems with it when it comes from a different perspective.

Whether it’s banning prayers at a high school football game, or burning the school building where a conservative speaker is appearing, or imposing a near complete media blackout on the massive annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., leftists show how they detest free speech when it is exercised in defense of causes they oppose.

So, please spare me the self-serving charge that I am somehow making a victim out of all leftists or liberals by pointing out the bad behavior of one (or even a few) whiny athletes, or that I am implying that all of them are heartless scolds who care little for their fellow man. I am doing neither.

I am just pushing back in this free country when I see someone making claims I disagree with in a time and place I find to be highly inappropriate.

Have I not the right to do so just because I’m a Christian, conservative male? Or should I just keep quiet and let one side spew their venom while I meekly acquiesce to their demands?

Trust me: I am keenly aware of the beam in my own eye and would vastly prefer not to point out the splinters in others, but going silent in the face of malign accusations and cynical misrepresentations is something up with which I will not put (to paraphrase the great Winston Churchill)!

Trey Hoffman
Peachtree City, Ga.