By today's standards I should have felt traumatized by these conversations. But I relished these arguments. They weren't yelling, in my view; they were discussing political topics. There was no name-calling; there were no hurt feelings. It was a full-on discussion, and I loved it. I still do.
As I grew up, I learned that politics was off-limits; that it was considered impolite to discuss politics with anybody any time, anywhere. Getting animated and excited about your view was low-brow, unacceptable. We were allowed to discuss anything -- gossip, the weather, anything at all -- other than anything that really matters -- like religion and politics. I have had friends come right out and tell me they don't want to talk to me about anything substantial -- but otherwise we can be friends. What? What kind of a friendship can we have if we can't discuss or argue over anything meaningful? If only your choice of lunch or the weather next week are possible topics?
The idea that Americans should discuss nothing of importance is one hundred percent wrong and has led us all to today -- where overheard discussions center on the latest android, the weather, celebrity's mishaps, Justin Bieber's haircut. What is the point of free speech in the United States of America if we are not allowed to discuss sensitive topics, according to our peers? The United States was founded on the idea that we should and must discuss ideas freely, openly, and loudly. We are not supposed to be subdued, polite company, but inquisitive, challenging, loud and boisterous company. We Americans need to cut out labeling each other "mean" for disagreeing and we need to get back to hollerin'.