Have an opinion? Watch out for spit - Shannon Jenkins

You can't have an opinion these days without someone spitting in your face.

I guess Jane Fonda learned her lesson for opposing the Vietnam War. A veteran spat chewing tobacco juice in her face during a recent book-signing in Missouri. He told a newspaper it was "payback for her anti-war stance" and that she was a traitor.

I hate to verbally slam a veteran, but this man has a lot of nerve.

So, way back in 1972, Jane Fonda takes a trip to Hanoi to protest the war. She sits on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun, and someone snaps a photo. Fonda reportedly apologized for the photo, but not her opinion on the war.

So what this boils down to is a grown man spitting in a 67-year-old woman's face for an opinion she expressed more than 30 years ago.

As Americans, we insist on freedom of expression. We want our opinions to be heard. However, we just can't pull it together when someone expresses an opinion that conflicts with our own.

Take, for instance, the Terri Schiavo ordeal. There was a photo published of two men nearing a brawl. They had differing opinions on whether or not to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube. One man was screaming at the other, with veins popping and all. As far as we know, these men never met Schiavo or her family. They had nothing to do with the matter. Yet, there they were ready to punch each other in the face. Well, one of them seemed willing.

It's baffling how we get so angry over other people's opinions. What is there to fight about? Someone doesn't agree with you. So what? You don't yell in their face. You certainly don't spit in their face.

The problem is, we as individuals don't really know the definition of the word opinion. According to a dictionary, an opinion is a belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof."

See that? Opinions are just beliefs. Despite how adamant we are that our opinions are fact, they simply aren't.

I have to keep this in mind when I see bumper stickers for George W. Bush. I didn't vote for him. I don't think he's a good leader, and that's my opinion. But a lot of people do. They believe in him. That's fine. Those bumper stickers reflect their opinions, and I must respect that. I have no intention of ripping those stickers off their bumpers as much as I'd enjoy it.

If I did, I'd be no better than the man who spit in Jane Fonda's face. Instead, I'll travel along Fonda's route. She cleaned herself up and proceeded to sign books for her fans. She didn't even press charges.

It seems this so-called traitor has more respect for opinions than the man who spit in her face.

Shannon Jenkins is the education reporter for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or sjenkins@henryherald.com .