Driving 19th Street in Lubbock alongside the sprawling edifices of Texas Tech, the little tin-can car in front of me sported quite a bumper sticker: SORRY WE MISSED CHURCH, WE WERE BUSY/LEARNING WITCHCRAFT AND BECOMING LESBIANS.
That bumper sticker won't cost you in Los Angeles or Austin, but it takes rare nerve to paste those words on your tail in the Bible Belt. (Lubbock has, I am told, more churches per capita than any city anywhere.) The tin can had Texas plates, and any Texan knows that sticker won't be taken lightly around here. I had to see who was driving that car. I pulled up alongside. The driver and her passenger were women of about 18, maybe 20. They wore tractor hats or maybe baseball caps, with brims pulled backwards, and they were laughing. They didn't notice me salute them, and they couldn't know that I was thinking, Next to these kids, I'm a wuss.
I write under the ever-flimsier protection of the First Amendment. They drive around a famously right-wing town daring anyone to say them nay.
It is the signature of our era that we live in a world so unstable that its limits may be tested merely by a bumper sticker - or, as in Europe and Islam right now, by a cartoon.
This a Hell of an op-ed on what our country and our world has - and will yet - become. Highly recommended reading.