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It’s fall 2014. A beautiful day in the city of trees and by all accounts, the only thing that seems to be blooming around me is love. A couple walks slowly, the synchronized sounds of their footsteps prattle behind me. I look back occasionally and smile. That saying occurs to me, the one about how couples come to resemble each other in both actions and physical appearance. These two have the same haircut, same jeans, the same stupid, shit eating grin. I don’t mean to sound callous, it’s just always funny to me. Two people who truly seem that nutter butters for one another.
We all reach a stopping point at once. The corner of Broadway and West Third. I can hear a loud sound approaching. A diesel truck. It calls to mind Uncle Buck pulling forth in that backfiring hunk of junk in order to embarrass his niece. But Uncle Buck had a heart. This sound is much more ominous… something… terrible. Sitting behind the over-compensating truck’s wheel is a surly and gluttonous man who seems to be slowing down his beastly hate machine in order to be heard. His red neck and face become simultaneously visible and audible, and though no one as I recall it asks for his sticky-icky two cents, he hurls them eloquently, like a fiery Molotov cocktail right out his truck’s window.
“Why don’t you dykes get a fucking room, pigs!”
Huh? …Huh. Uh huh. Okay. I look to the ladies beside me. The loving couple who merely have or rather had smiles upon their faces and arms laid upon each other’s shoulders. And all I can muster in this moment of complacency, shock, disgust, and hate is a long and drawn out:
“Fuuuuuuuck you buddy.”
It must have taken such bravery and such courage of you, sir, to do a drive by shooting of hate speech. And now I am filled with hate for your hate. I look to the couple, who simply smile, half-hearted, but walk away in the other direction, an arm’s length apart.
And I am left with a few thoughts of my own. One: do you kiss your mother with that mouth, truck driver? Yeah probably, and she is probably proud of you. Two: was I right to speak the way I did? Could I have done more, or did I only feed into it? Three: why in our country where we ensure an idiot like that the freedom of speech do we not ensure the right for people to pursue happiness, love, and their right to express that love freely? Everything just felt wonky the rest of that day, and still, when I think of it. What solves a problem like this? What changes such archaic and outmoded ideas?
Everyone has seen Bambi, and heard that old chestnut: if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. We’re all entitled to our opinions, sure. But we’re also entitled to live a happy and safe existence free from having someone’s hate speech imposed on us. I have a dream too. It’s that your truck breaks down, your tongue rots, or I don’t know, maybe you grow up a little.