Amy Brenneman
Amy Brenneman

November 26, 2014

But Fear Itself

Over the past couple of weeks – more since the election, I suppose – a couple of times readers of my blogs have cautioned me to “be careful. You have a lot of fans.” While I really appreciate concern from anyone, I’m not sure what this means.


My social activist views are nothing new. Anyone who is interested can go back a couple of decades at this point and see they have been fairly consistent. I guess my views became more public during Judging Amy when I was asked to become more involved with causes and campaigns. While CBS is a more conservative network, Tyne Daly’s and my views were more progressive. This was never a problem. We were never told to be silent or to “be careful.” Why? Because we live in America where there is a multiplicity of political views and protection for the lawful expression of them.


I have friends with radically different political views from mine. To be sure, most of my closest friends have views more in line with mine, as is probably true of you as well. But I cherish my friends who think differently from me. I have learned from them, and learned to civilly debate with them. I am not confrontational by nature or by nurture. I want to bridge build and have everybody get along. But by having safe, trusted friends who think differently I have been able to argue, express my viewpoint, which is either strengthened or changed because of this dialogue.


The United States of America was born because of religious and political persecution. If nothing else, the founders envisioned a place where people of differing beliefs could safely co-exist. This is a tall order, and the history of our country can read like a bloody hypocrisy, beginning with the treatment of the native peoples were already living on this land. But Jefferson and his colleagues were no hacks; there is something eternally aspirational about this image of a big tent, where people of different ethnicities, beliefs and languages can have a civil dialogue about the common good.


I’ll continue to express my views and you’ll express yours. I am always happy when someone posts on my FB page something that disagrees with my viewpoint. I am never happy with disrespect or slurs, but you guys have never, ever done that. Friends sometimes ask me “what are your fans like” and I always, always answer: the best there is. The most big-hearted, respectful and thoughtful people there are. I mean that. Perhaps because our relationship was forged through the humane storytelling of NYPD Blue, Judging Amy, Private Practice and now The Leftovers. Something about those stories transcends Republican/Democrat and red/blue. In geological terms, they went down a layer or two beyond Fox News or CNN.


For those that caution me to be careful, I’m okay. I hope I am, anyway! If we are living in the moment where we have to be afraid to express our political views in an appropriate way, then that really is the end of the American Dream.