Nearly every weekday, over the past 35 years, I have had the blessing of having a microphone to deliver my opinions on the news of the day. I also get to share those opinions in a column for the Forum News Service newspapers. It's pretty simple for me, I just share what I believe to be informed, true and accurate information — but it is an opinion.
The reaction to differing viewpoints is a dangerous business these days. What's up with that? I never cease to be amazed at how quickly a difference of opinion can divulge into vitriol. What has happened to us? Is it the veil social media provides, so keyboard warriors can slam people we disagree with or fire off missives as letters to the editor? In America, we should all revere our First Amendment rights to free speech. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I welcome them. I love a good debate.
I'm appalled that rather than disagree and counter an opinion with facts or a different viewpoint so many lead with anger. Here's a few recent examples, directed at me for my opinions.
One says I'm “so far detached from having a rational thought.” And that I have been given a platform to “spread my insanity.” Another says “Grow up Mr. Hennen, this is not a food fight." One fella thought I was “a goon!”
They say I'm a "hypocrite"! Why? Because I advocate for health freedom on the decision of deciding if you should get the COVID-19 shot but I disagree that killing a baby should also be a choice. Silly me, I don't think ending a child's life can be fairly called “health care.”
There’s more. “Hennen has proven many times the truth is of little consequence to him, he even participated in the Capitol riot," says this critic. Wait, what? Actually, as a member of the media, I covered the electoral process on Jan. 6 with hundreds of other members of the media.
This Hennen hater is not done yet. ”Anyone who has ever listened to his radio show would know his modus operandi is appealing to the vulnerable people who will believe any conspiracy theory or paranoid insanity.” Does that sound like a radio show that would survive 35 years in North Dakota?
Most of these comments have come from people with differing political opinions. But far too many conservatives have been quick to attack their own these days.
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., may have his finger on the pulse of the problem. He yearns for the days of the "Sunny Conservatism" of the Reagan era. He was quoted in a recent roll call profile saying "As a Party, I would like us to get the smile back. ... Our virtue needs to be demonstrated in our personalities, not just our ideals." He grieves that "we've become too angry."
He may be right. We don't just disagree anymore; we scream into a keyboard.
I don't ever want to become mean and angry, while expressing my First Amendment free speech opinions.
I'm hoping all of us can look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Can we have a spirited debate? Let's be happy warriors and bring some joy back into the dialogue, even when we disagree.
Scott Hennen hosts the statewide radio program “What’s On Your Mind?” On AM 1100 “The Flag”, KFYR AM 550, AM 1090 KTGO “The Flag” and AM 1460 KLTC. Email him at ScottH@FlagFamily.com