Passionate voices at the backgammon table were louder than normal, sounding louder than the usual shouts over a good or bad roll of the dice. Several people began to look for other tables.
Kate Mgrdichian said to me, “They’re not playing. They’re arguing politics and getting louder and scaring other customers. You need to say something.”
While I tried quickly to plan something to say, Ms. Anne Thrope intercepted the table. “I’m hearing words of hatred and I want to point out the sign posted above the counter. If you can’t read it, I’ll read it to you.” She pointed to the house rules sign:
No demonizing or disparaging comments about anyone. Do not vilify. Talk about ideas, problems, and solutions. Nonviolently. Thank you for understanding.
Jimmy Antwhistle and Marshall Hopinsky both glared at Ms. Anne.
“Look, I’m not trying to cause a problem, but he keeps talking about the libs and making disparaging remarks about the President.”
“I’m just speaking the truth—and he needs to stop calling me a dunderhead. I’m conservative, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think. That’s that damn political correctness for you.”
“Yes, well, how about the other thing you call me—libtard. That’s real sweet—a made-up word. You think I’m a blind follower of certain ideas, but if you’re thinking, then you need to realize that I’m thinking.”
“Gentlemen, here’s what I think,” said Ms. Anne. “Labels don’t help anyone. Liberal and conservative name-calling—well, let me put it this way. When you label me as a liberal, you think I do this, that, and the other. When you label me as a conservative, you think I do this, that, and the other. But what if you see that I do a little of both? Suddenly I don’t fit your categories. You have to see me as a person. An individual. Labels endanger everyone.”
“You’re clearly a lib. That’s why you’re saying this.”
“No, she isn’t. She’s a traditionalist.”
“And as far as I’m concerned, the language is not politically correct as much as it is respectful of all people. As for my credentials, I voted for Ronald Reagan and then I voted for Bill Clinton because George Bush wasn’t the answer to our nation’s problems. Now I’m not foolish enough to think that this little conversation is going to change your minds, so you want a 30-minute sermon, a two-hour lecture, or a five-second blessing from me before you leave?”
“I’ll take five seconds.”
“Yep, I don’t need any sermon.”
“Live with others in peace. Thank you for coming to the coffee club. Please come again.”