Ryan Alexander-Tanner

BACK IN HIGH SCHOOL, senior year specifically, I had this teacher I didn't like. Portland State University sent him over to help prepare us college-bound types for the pace and thrust of a liberal arts education. He was supposed to teach us about physics—but his pet cause was political correctness, and as the year wore on, he devoted more attention to the latter and increasingly less to the former.

We learned about white privilege, micro aggressions, and that a person of color cannot be racist, because racism implies that power is being systematically leveraged—and all of these things are important things to learn. This teacher also wore sandals and socks with individual toes and excessively brought up his wife but exclusively referred to her as his partner. He spoke softly and passive-aggressively.

He never said it, but I had a very strong suspicion that he didn't like me or any of the other college-prep kids who were also on the football team—that he subscribed to some kind of weird Archie comics binary about jocks and nerds, and thought he knew who was capable of being a sympathetic ear or an empathetic heart to liberal causes.

My young, impressionable mind thought this is what a liberal was supposed to be, and it kind of ruined that shit for me for a few years. I didn't want to be passive-aggressive. I didn't want to wear fucking socks with individual toes. I did want to be progressive, though. I did share many of his core values... just not any of his mannerisms or costume jewelry. It took me until recently to realize this, but I'm not any less committed to my beliefs than that teacher; I'm just built different. I'm a loudmouth asshole liberal.

I'm not saying this is a good thing, by the way. I don't mean to imply that being a loudmouth asshole liberal helps further the agenda better than the toe-socks guy, BUT IT'S DIFFERENT, and that's something!

And oh man, it's fun. Sometimes the right thing to do is help a misguided person—who's popping off on the internet about Obama, Planned Parenthood, or whatever—understand the error of their ways. And sometimes the right thing to do is to tell that person to suck your fucking dick. Sometimes you just need to shout back. Sometimes you need to let conservatives know that you can bludgeon with the best of them. It can't always be: "You can't decide who you love." Sometimes it has to be, "It's none of your fucking business if a guy wants to marry a guy, you pillow-soft fucking gossip-ass yenta."

I didn't like that teacher, but I am thankful for what he taught me. I do think he made me a better man, even though he wore those fucking socks. He's a good man with a good brain, but I think it's important to point out that us fucking idiots can be liberal, too. You go make the world a better place—I'll go get in a shouting match with the person who's making it worse.