Every election year this unfailingly ends up back in my head. And I unfailingly get just as mad as I did the first time. So in the interests of getting it out of my head I hereby share it with all and sundry.
A few years back the legislature was debating passing a state income tax. This was a huge hot issue and it got a lot of people riled up and honkin’ mad. It got to the point where the block around the legislature’s office building was gridlocked with cars honking their horns for days because some local wanna-be Rush Limbaughs suggested it. A lot of state employees work within a block of that building and the noise was so bad it made it hard to work even 20 floors up so we were all a little tense for those two weeks. (I doubt anyone considered how much money was lost due to low productivity during this taxpayer tantrum, but it was one of the few amusing things about the whole situation.)
One day about half way through this circus I decided to go to lunch and encountered a couple of middle-aged idiots in front of our building yelling and honking an air horn. This was before I had kids and I hadn’t yet developed the ability to selectively ignore loud noises so I asked them to find somewhere else to honk their air horn so I could get some work done. One of these guys yelled ‘Free Speech!’ and honked the air horn in my face. That exact moment was the closest I’ve ever been to being in an actual physical fight with anyone other than my brother. I’ve never been in a fist fight as an adult, but I’m absolutely 100% certain that if I hadn’t been physically stunned by the air horn blast in my face I would have broken my hand on his face. He was saved by being half a block away by the time coherent thought entered my head again. Even then I might have ran after him if I had been anywhere other than right in front of my office where the boss might see.
This happened approximately ten years ago and it still makes me mad to think about it. I think those idiots where a precursor to the Tea Party, and that moment was the genesis of my hatred of pushy “in your face” political activism.