The Casper Star-Tribune’s story, “Shades of Red,” examines how Wyoming citizens do not appear to be calling for State law to be more restrictive regarding specific “hot-button social issues,” despite the fact that Wyoming could arguably be considered the most conservative state in the country based on our voting habits.
The sentiment that was expressed by those who were interviewed for the story was consistent with a “live and let live” ethos that is often attributed to our citizens—that we may not agree with you, but we aren’t going to tell you how to live. Yet, one could pose the following question: “Would this ‘live and let live’ ethos remain intact if the status quo was truly threatened?"
If an individual’s values (e.g., not supporting abortion or gay marriage) are in line with those of the majority of the population, and the status quo (e.g., Wyoming has few or no opportunities for abortion or gay marriage) is not likely to change any time soon, then that individual is not required to confront an alternative to the status quo in any meaningful way. Is it not easier to say “live and let live” when the likelihood is next to nothing that the other person will be able to live in a way that you do not approve of? Here, the issues become almost abstracted, far from the impassioned response that is seen when one feels his or her values are truly threatened.
Missing in this examination of the attitudes and behaviors of our citizens are the perspectives of those whose identities, choices, or viewpoints are in the minority. Do they characterize Wyoming as exuding a “live and let live” atmosphere, as well? When their identities, beliefs and experiences became known to others, were they met with a reception that was respectful and accepting of who they are and the choices they have made for themselves? Or, did they feel they were met with a reception that was dismissive, hostile, or discriminatory? These perspectives are necessary for any determination as to whether our “live and let live” ethos holds true.