Lately, I’ve been having rather disturbing discussions with my husband on topics I never thought I’d need to address in a (supposedly) open and democratic society; for instance, Bill asked me a couple of days ago if I thought we’d be kicked out of The Black Sheep Deli in Amherst if we were wearing our “I Stand” American flag t-shirts. Granted, the deli is the very definition of a socialist enclave in a town we call The People’s Republic of Amherst, but we also know the owner, as he’s our minister’s husband and is a close friend of ours. I wouldn’t NOT eat there because of his views, or I’d be missing out on some of the most delicious sandwiches and desserts in the area (although I’d probably sit and read my copy of The Federalist Papers while doing so). He also wouldn’t throw me out because of mine, but if he wasn’t there, I have a sinking feeling that just might happen. Hell just talking amongst ourselves as we took a walk through town while wearing those shirts was enough to piss people off — if looks alone could kill, we wouldn’t be here today. Something similar happened when Bill and I went to Barnes and Noble after church one Sunday this past winter. He was wearing a long duster style coat, cowboy boots and a felt (pseudo) cowboy hat, and he was looking for a book when I wandered off to look for my own stuff. It didn’t take him long to find me and say “I think I’m offending some people.” When I started observing those around us, I realized he was right. Sadly, our conversation turned from would we be thrown out of our favorite establishments in Amherst (and the answer is yes) to whether I would wear my t-shirt if I knew I could face violence as a result. My immediate answer was an unequivocal “Hell, yes, I would risk a black eye for my rights.” Bill was taken aback at first, and to be honest, at first I thought it was a comment that got away from me, but when I gave it some serious thought, my answer was the same. Yes, I would speak my mind in my own way, even if I suffered for it. I’m not the kind of person who looks for trouble and I certainly am not one to be in the public square screaming at the sky and chanting pithy SJW slogans, but neither am I a pushover. I stand by my patriotism and will not let fascism strip me of my rights or force me to live in fear. When I explained this to him, he said, “you know what? I would be right there with you.” The old saying “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything” is a cliché but it’s also true. The minute you stop thinking for yourself, you give others control over the one thing that makes you human — your soul. I am nobody’s mind slave and I will never give up my right to express myself. Further, I am willing to be attacked if my “protest” means I’ll be protecting the rights of all Americans to speak their minds and believe whatever they want to, especially if it offends me. If it means following in the footsteps of Dr. King and Ghandi, and practicing passive resistance then so be it. I won’t sit by and let fascism destroy the country I love so dearly. This is my home, I am an American. I am a patriot. Sic Semper Tyrannus.