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{The following is a response to an editorial by the “Director of Public and Member Relations” at the “Coffee Party USA”, published here because of a lack of ability and patience to determine his email address.}

Mr. Danahey —

Not sure what posts you are referring to, but I can take a good guess. And if I’m right, you had a chance to take a stand for (purported) Coffee Party Principles of Civility and Respect, and instead reframed hate speech as free speech. If so, I strongly suggest you are neglecting the meaning of the latter and not recognizing the former.

Free Speech is the right to a voice, not a pulpit. Free speech is not a get-out-of-jail-free card when someone oversteps the guidelines or prinicples of the context in which it is made. There are rules for what is appropriate subject matter in any given context, and even more common-sense rules for courtesy. And of any conceivable group, the nature of Coffee Party dialogue is FOUNDED on such rules. These rules apply to everyone who posts on the Join the Coffee Party page — except for staff?

Hate speech is repeated derision and ridicule of a group of people — not attacking or debating select policies or the actions and words of individuals — but statements indicting using whole lables, be it racial, gender-based, religious, cultural, or ideological.

One of your board memebrs, who I assume is the culprit or at least the blogger linked so often, is a prolific political bigot. And by bigot I do not mean metaphorically, or a placeholder for “I don’t like what he’s saying” but the true meaning of the word. They sometimes editorialize such that I may disagree, and sometimes agree as well, but most of it is nothing more than hate speech painting the broad brush over anyone associated with a particular political party. It adds nothing to the discussion except more hate.

If someone made a big deal about crimes committed by a partular ethnic group, making sure it was broadly tied to a perceived collective identity, it might be flagged or removed immediately, because of “politically correctness”, sadly often depending on what group it is. But bigotry doesn’t depend on who is the target. It doesn’t care if it’s a minority or majority, socially accpetable or unacceptable. In this case, much of what is posted is blatantly against real people who identify themselves with a general political persuasion or afffiliation. Judging them all to be clones in a homogenous, monolithic group, it is personally demeaning to every individual. It is prejudice. It is bigotry.

My only question is if you went to such great lenthgs to rationaizine all this away for others, or to yourself. Are you trying to keep the peace within the politics of the leadership, or subvert your own outrage into something you can swallow?

Even your historical example of “what we can survive” defies congruency to the fact the Coffee Party is NOT the general public — where the free speech argument may apply — but a community with accepted behavioral expectations. Or is enflaming partisan vitriol an acceptable part of the staff’s modus operandi?

You should have followed your first instinct. “Free Speech” doesn’t drive you crazy. Abusing it to be contrary to what you were told and beleive the Coffee Parrty stands for drives you crazy.

It drives a lot of us crazy. You can sweep it under your own carpet, but you’re doing irreparable harm to that which some of us hold as dearly as you claim to. Regardless, taking the easy way out is not doing your job of public and member relations.

Your choice now is to dig your heels in with more rhetoric or be honest with yourself and the rest of us. If the Party truly values, or even tolerates diversity of position at all, you should be allowed to take a real stand with a dissenting opinion — not against what you don’t want to hear, but against what doesn’t belong anywhere in the political spectrum who wish to take the higher road.

Some of us — a lot of us — will be waiting and watching. We’ve had enough. But your stance thus far only reinforces our suspicion there’s no hope for change here, or that civility and respect were lip service or tenuous promises from the start.