24 Days to Election Day

I’m attempting to post a brief meditation on the daily quote from my Election Day advent calendar. Today brings us:

You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents,
not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists.
Abbie Hoffman

True. Democracy’s great strength is the power it puts in the hands of the minority, and you have to be gracious about that even when the minority pisses you off.

But this is day 4 of quotes, and here’s what this one really makes me think. Days 1 and 2 were very earnest and serious quotes from Ella Baker and Dorothy Day. Ella Baker worked tirelessly in the civil rights movement. Dorothy Day campaigned for radical justice as a Catholic socialist.

Days 3 and today, George Carlin and Abbie Hoffman, are more likely to be names you recognize. I’d say both Carlin and Hoffman were political provocateurs with valid messages and honest concerns, but they got away with being pranksters and entertainers in a way that Day and Baker would not have been able to because of their gender.

We’ll be a stronger democracy when women find power and acclaim as provocateuse-pranksters as readily as men. We’re doing better. We’ve got some pretty funny feminists saying some pretty powerful stuff, finding wider audiences and greater appreciation while speaking truth to power. We’re not there yet. Rock on, Sarah Silverman.

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