Branded With A Scarlet Letter

July 25, 2008 at 12:00 am | Posted in Rants | 14 Comments

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that it is best not to discuss politics at work. Ever. I vote based on issues, not party, and have voted for Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Overall I probably fall a bit more in what people would label the “conservative” end of the spectrum, but not too far, and have opinions on certain issues that most people would consider to be “liberal” leanings. However, I work in a field that is fairly liberal and currently live in a part of the country where “conservative” is a dirty word. The two combined make talking about politics at work even less of a good idea than it would be otherwise. So, I’ve continued my practice of “don’t ask, I won’t tell”.

Within the past year a new co-worker who is openly Republican started work with me. Some people tease him about it- jokes about McCain’s age, being Republican means he hates children, etc.- but nothing too bad. I maintained my silence. Recently there was a conversation that started with the New Yorker cover with the caricature of the Obamas. I said something during the discussion (not even remotely political) that resulted in the comment “Well, you’re from Texas. You must be a Republican too.” Interesting since I hadn’t agreed or disagreed with any of the political statements that had been made at that point. Things progressed into a discussion of the Supreme Court Decision in the DC gun ban case and somehow ended up with talk about New Jersey gun laws.

I don’t own a gun, have never fired a gun, and have no plans to buy one, but I also don’t think that guns themselves are inherently evil (a common belief in my profession). Several of my favorite blogs are written by gun owners who post about diverse issues such as guns in the military, family time at the gun range, and proper preparation for a Zombie attack. Abby (of Bad Dogs and Such) is particularly prolific in the gun post category, including posts on the joy of new gun ownership, gun cleaning, and even the way ammunition multiplies and can be found in the nooks and crannies of her house the way pens can in other people’s homes. I honestly consider myself fairly middle of the road in my personal stance on guns. Apparently I am wrong.

During the discussion of New Jersey gun laws, the “token” Republican from the office started talking about the background check and the fact that the authorities have the right to interview anyone they want to before approving an application for a purchase permit (necessary to buy guns and most ammunition) or a carry permit. They can go to your neighbors, your co-workers, the convenience store clerk you buy Red Bull from. Anyone they want to. Once you have signed the applications, they have permission to talk to anyone and everyone, telling them that you have applied to be able to purchase and/or carry a gun and asking if there is any reason why you shouldn’t be granted permission.

I have a problem with this. Actually several problems. I can understand checking up on the references you include on the form, but being able to randomly select anyone they feel like talking to and asking questions just doesn’t sit well with me. If I decide I want a gun and submit an application, I don’t think my neighbors have any right to know. In fact, I think it is less safe if the authorities run around asking questions and basically advertise that a certain person living at a certain location will soon be purchasing a gun. Beyond that, what if the person they interview is vehemently anti-gun? What is going to stop them from saying something untrue that could keep me from being approved? They could say I have an alcohol problem, violent tendencies, or seem touched in the head. Anything to keep me from getting the permit.

Anyway, back to the story. After the co-worker mentioned this and I asked a few questions I stated that I think this is inappropriate and a breach of basic privacy/civil liberties. At this point the “token” Republican looked at me and said, “Oh, you’re a different kind of Republican. I’m not one of those scary Republicans”.

Apparently I am not only a dyed in the wool Republican, but I’m a scary one too. It still makes me shake me head. I have to move away from here soon!



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  1. LOL If they consider you a scary one, I wonder where I fall into the spectrum? That might even be scarier….

  2. I’m with ya ABW!

  3. ABW- It is interesting to be considered a “scary” Republican…especially after some of my personal beliefs had me labeled a liberal/Democrat in the last three states I lived in before here! Context really is everything.

  4. Krista- I’ve often wondered how much of my attitude is the Texas upbringing. Mine wasn’t that “traditional” either – my parents are from a midwestern/Yankee state.

    I just find it ironic that so many people will argue for “civil liberties”, “personal choice”, and getting rid of “Big Brother” for some issues but then want huge amounts of government intrusion in others.

  5. I’m fairly liberal on everything except the firearms, really. Except that, as you pointed out, since I like the guns, I get lumped in with the “right,” when I’d really like to be lumped into the “out of my gun cabinet, out of my bedroom, out of my library rental records” group.

  6. I know what you mean Abby. The gun issue is the *only* remotely political issue I have voiced an opinion about at my current workplace and it is why I have now been labeled a Republican. Well, that combined with being from Texas. Based on your comment, it sounds as if we have fairly similar overall viewpoints and I’d probably be happy to be lumped into the group you described. Does this mean we are Libertarians or some other as yet undefined group?

  7. My advice is to try and live up the stereotype. Wear a “Property of Jesus” t-shirt and go on and on about the U.N. stealing your mail. That’s how I roll.

  8. Labels and stereotypes never quite fit, but people still try to force everyone into some box and stick a label on it.

  9. The UN is stealing my mail?! It was bad enough that the CIA is tapping my phone :)

  10. I agree Lou. The funniest part of it to me though is that the “box” I get put into and the “label” I receive is different depending on the part of the country I live in. People really do seem to make these decisions based on single issues a lot of the time.

  11. If they moved to Texas they would never leave the house…they’d be so scared.

    While you’re at it get an NRA Charlton Heston is my President t-shirt…that would certanly drive them over the edge.

    Some people are just too sensitive.

  12. I don’t think you have to worry about them invading Outlaw 13. A lot of the same people give off the attitude that Texas is “beneath them”.

    I think I can tough it out a few more months- the end is in sight! I might have to get the t-shirt as a goodbye gift for one of the special co-workers though. . .

  13. My Dad told me once the difference between a Yankee and a Damn Yankee is that the Yankee is just here for a visit.

    I would suggest for a parting gift the shirt sold at this link:

  14. Thanks for the suggestion Outlaw 13. I looked around a bit at the site and saw this t-shirt too. I might have to get it for a co-worker who is a good friend. Well, at least for her husband. He keeps trying to convince her they should move to Texas but she just won’t budge! She’ll *love* it if he has this t-shirt to wear around.

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