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Commentary: I'm thankful for your insults

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday I, like most of you, have spent some time reflecting on what I'm thankful for.

It's the usual things, of course. My health, and the health of my loved ones. Our shared happiness and prosperity. The work our first responders and military do to keep us safe and healthy.

I'm also thankful for something that might seem a little odd at first blush.

Specifically, your insults.

I'm a provocative guy. Trust me when I say it's not calculation. I'm not specifically trying to make you angry to foment clicks for my columns or listen to my radio show, though that's a common accusation against people in this line of work.

It's just that I see my job as pointing out inconvenient truths, and pushing the debate into uncomfortable areas. Even if you disagree with me, if I've forced you to at least consider an issue from a different point of view, then I feel I've accomplished something important.

I'm deeply thankful I get to do that for a living.

I'm also thankful to live in a nation where we have embedded legal protections for provocative speech in our founding documents.

But why am I thankful for the insults? For the barrage of invective, not to mention demands for immediate termination, which often meet my most read columns and blog posts?

Because it means you, my critics, enjoy the same First Amendment protections I do.

I am not thankful that much of today's political discourse is little more than the "blue" team on the left taking umbrage at whatever the "red" team on the right is doing, and vice versa. Though we still use ideological terms like "left" and "right" or "liberal" and "conservative," we're not often discussing ideas these days.

Politics has become a competition to see who can most effectively paint the opposition as some monstrous hater of the middle class.

Or women.

Or Christians.

Or America.

Or whoever/whatever it's politically advantageous to accuse political opponents of hating.

I'd rather you not respond to me with pejoratives and cast aspersions.

I am thankful that you can.

Because as much as I dislike the level our political discourse has sunk to, I prefer a brawling sometimes petty sort of discourse over one curtailed by even the most well-intentioned censors.

Thank you for your insults. Thank you for paying attention and engaging. Heck, thanks for having the courage to access content which makes you angry.

That alone is a rare thing in these days of polarized media and digital echo chambers.