But when someone wears a shirt implying that they condone the lynching of journalists (seen at a Trump rally), or argues that sexual attraction to children (in the case of Alabama’s Roy Moore) should not be a disqualification from public office, or that Jews are inherently unpatriotic because they have loyalties only to Israel or to money (as Rep. Ilhan Omar suggested), how are we to react?
Do we hold to the warmth of our hearts, and try to quash our innate sense of disgust because somehow a recognition of our common humanity makes us better people? Are we allowed to feel contempt — but then draw the line at expressing it? Or if we express it, must we do so with as much grace as possible, in order to spare the feelings of others?
And if our guiding principle here is to avoid expressions of contempt, then how do we reestablish the guard rails of a decent society? What good does it do to disagree with, say, a racist or a xenophobe without an attempt to induce shame that burns through the sophistry and reflexive appeals to free speech that such people employ to shield their views from criticism?