Precision of Language

Earlier this week, I declared via Facebook that I would be taking a Facebook Sabbatical for the next two months or so. My pro-Hillary friends, for the most part, appeared to assume I was only “going dark” because Hillary would be spanking Trump in the election for POTUS (I am very openly conservative and, while Trump was never my choice for President, I would be voting for him to protect America from the insidious Clinton machine). I explained that my hiatus had nothing to do with the election – but with desiring to be more present for my family, friends, and clients – and that I would deactivate my Facebook page regardless of who won on November 8, 2016. I told everyone to message me if they need my telephone number for future contact and said I would be shutting down November 9, 2016 as soon as my morning court was over.

That brings us to this morning. It seemed all over Facebook people were commenting on the election from the wee morning hours and throughout the morning. No surprise there. However, I noticed a trend from many liberal “Facebook Friends” (FF’s) that they were ashamed to be Americans (some used the word embarrassed) this morning because Trump was elected President. There was also a lot of hate speech about how people who voted for Trump were voting for bigotry, racism, misogyny, sexism, etc. (Because clearly that’s the ONLY way Trump could have won). I ignored the hate speech because, frankly, as a conservative I’m used to people calling me names instead of arguing facts when I don’t agree with everything they say. BUT, the “ashamed/embarrassed to be an American” part was really sticking in my craw. Then I was point blank asked by a friend why people would write such things; i.e.: she understood being disappointed, but ashamed to be an American because of an election?

I decided to answer her question with my own thoughts on that specific group of liberals who were ashamed to be Americans this bright November morning. I wish I’d thought to copy what I’d written so I could simply reproduce it here, but I cancelled my account and then decided to write this post later. C’est la vie. In a nutshell, I stated that I believe there is a fundamental difference between people who believe as I do and people who would write that they were ashamed to be an American. That people who are truly ashamed differ in that they don’t love America in the same way that I do. That they believe America was flawed from day one, unfixable, and essentially needs to be changed from the inside-out (I also wrote to my fellow conservatives not to take any shit about slavery because the Constitution includes all of the Amendments – so no, Whoopie Goldberg, following the Constitution doesn’t bring back slavery). I wrote that people who claim to be ashamed of America this morning don’t fully understand, in my opinion, what it this Constitutional Republic means to the world or what it really means to be an American. And then, to make sure it was clear that I was not referring to people who were disillusioned, or upset, or even embarrassed or ashamed of THIS ELECTION RESULT, I gave the example that when Obama was elected I was disappointed, devastated, you name it. I was worried he would try to circumvent the Constitution any time it was inconvenient. BUT, I was NEVER ashamed to be an American. At the close of my post I said something to the effect of, if these people truly love their country and believe that their way is the right way, then they should be saying what I was prepared to say if Trump lost: the fight for liberty continues.

Compared to the racist/bigot/sexist lingo used by my political counterparts, I thought this was fairly benign and directed at only those liberals that were actually ashamed/embarrassed to be Americans this morning. Well, according to some liberal friends (that the post, if read as written, would not have applied to) I was “speaking for liberals,” I was claiming to be better than everyone else, I was being disrespectful, you name it. Some of these attacks came from people I care about and respect – people with whom I’ve had countless political discussions about our differences and never suggested I was better than they were. Of course, the comments were directed at my supposed attack on anyone not happy with the election results – again, that wasn’t anywhere in my post. But I think people have a tendency to read into and digest what fits a certain narrative in their head. I’ve been guilty of that myself.

I then received a text message from a liberal friend of mine who is not on Facebook, but whose liberal wife showed him my statement. Revealing this discussion (with text typos corrected) may illustrate the frustration I often have with having a meaning read into something that was clearly stated a particular way. I generally write what I mean and mean what I write.  [Brackets are my thoughts – parentheses were used in the actual texts]. For my amusement, my friend will be called MicroAgro:

MicroAgro: Wife showed me your Facebook post about liberal embarrassment. Pretty hot takes, and no mention of the fact that the guy we elected is a FUCKING ORANGE REALITY TV STAR. Seems like a reasonable ground for embarrassment. I’d be equally embarrassed if Trump got elected as a democrat. Who’s your audience?

Me: Then you didn’t read the entire post. It was in response to those claiming to be embarrassed to be AMERICAN because of this election. I have no qualms about being embarrassed that people voted a certain way or even to feel devastated. I was devastated when Obama won. I was not embarrassed to be an American. Read with your eyes, not  your emotion. People who are embarrassed to be an American because of this election have a very shallow concept, in my opinion, of what being an American means. I said the same thing to anyone claiming to be embarrassed to be an American when Obama won. Interesting enough, I only had one conservative friend make such an absurd statement when Obama won. There have been at least 20 liberal FF’s who have claimed the same since Trump won.

MicroAgro: [Walking his outrage back in my opinion – he doesn’t agree]: But isn’t there a difference between saying “I’m embarrassed to be an American right now/at this moment/this morning (since we just chose to have a clown lead our country)” and saying “I’m embarrassed to be an American as a general matter/always/permanently”? Isn’t most embarrassment temporary?

Me: I don’t think there is a difference. They could be embarrassed FOR the country, but not OF it. That’s my opinion. I don’t think it’s shocking. To actually be embarrassed to be an American has greater implications to me than to people that thoughtlessly throw out words with no thought for their meaning. But I think your point again was you’re always right, I’m always wrong. Par for the course.

MicroAgro: I don’t think what you wrote was shocking, but you seriously oversimplified a very complex issue. You haven’t done that in our private texts, which makes me think your Facebook post was intentionally inflammatory. Sort of like your talk radio guys do. You trying to get a foot in the door?

Me: I thought my post was benign compared to all the liberals posting about all the bigots, racists, sexists, and misogynists that voted since that’s clearly THE ONLY WAY Trump could have won.

MicroAgro: People weren’t embarrassed when Obama got elected because he’s not a reality TV clown.

Me: I was horrified by the “couldn’t even finish one term senator who’d never run anything in his life.” Many people were.

MicroAgro: No matter how you slice it, it is very embarrassing that our country got to a point that a guy like Trump even had a prayer of getting elected.

Me: I think it was embarrassing that both of these jokers were all we had to choose from. Still not embarrassed to be an American.

MicroAgro: I think a more honest post from you would have explained the distinction between being embarrassed by our choice(s) and being embarrassed to be an American as a general matter. But a more honest post wouldn’t be as provocative. I get it.

Me: I did. In my post. You didn’t fucking read it! I even gave the Obama example to clearly illustrate my point. You only read what fit your narrative.

MicroAgro: I did read it.

Me: And the commentary? Then how can you not see that I already did what you claim I should have done?

MicroAgro: Bullshit. Nowhere in your post did you acknowledge that you were in any way embarrassed or that any type of embarrassment would be acceptable [not accurate]. You were very clearly saying that people who are embarrassed this morning are un-American. A very talk-radio thing to say.

Me: People WHO ARE EMBARRASSED TO BE AN AMERICAN. I said what I meant.

MicroAgro: You left out a very important caveat, the one you acknowledged to me both last night and this morning. Some embarrassment is acceptable. But including that would have made the post less blustery. Not good for your audience. I understand.

Me: Embarrassment WITH THE ELECTION not with being an American. Your reading something into what was clearly written in black-and-white. And then tried to back pedal your outrage by essentially saying I should have explained it more. I thought Trump voters were the dumb ones and the Hillary supporters were the most intelligent people on the planet. But they need a little more explanation? Reading comprehension must no longer be taught in school. Also, I don’t have a specific audience. Earlier this week I said that I would be shutting down my Facebook page this morning, which I did.

MircroAgro: There is an obvious difference between being embarrassed this morning (“oops, we just did something stupid”) and being permanently embarrassed (“we’re stupid, always and forever”). Again, I understand why you left that subtlety out of your post, but it’s still troubling. No back peddling. I said the same thing in my second text to you today.

Me: You’re making an assumption that they were only embarrassed (this morning) to be an American (which I’m having a hard time believing you actually believe). And considering most used the word “ashamed” instead of embarrassed lends credence to my interpretation of THE ACTUAL WORDS THEY USED instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt. To use your suggestion, maybe they should have explained it more. Precision of language.

MicroAgro: If you really took them to mean “embarrassed generally” rather than “embarrassed this morning,” that’s an unfortunately skeptical way of looking at things [so now I’m wrong for thinking those people meant what they wrote?] If I said, “I’m embarrassed,” would you take that to mean that I’m permanently embarrassed or just temporarily embarrassed by something that just happened? But I obviously understand why you wouldn’t want to give “liberals” (because only liberals are embarrassed by Trump, right?) the benefit of the doubt. Easier to just assume the worst.

Me: If you said, “Holy shit! I’m embarrassed that I got so drunk I walked head first into a stop sign and rolled down a ditch,” then yes, I would clearly read that to mean you were embarrassed by that specific event. If you wrote that “I’m embarrassed that people would elect an orange reality TV show star for president,” then yes, I would read that you were perhaps temporarily embarrassed. BUT, if you wrote “I’m embarrassed to be an American” and then followed that statement up with references to bigots, racists, sexists, and misogynists, I would not interpret that to mean a temporary state of mind.

MicroAgro: Obviously not. Then you couldn’t write antagonistic Facebook posts intended to foment hatred of liberals.

Me: Only liberals that don’t know what words mean.




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