Opinions. Everyone has them and everyone has the right to voice them. Except when they don't.

More often than not, I cannot state my opinion without someone jumping down my throat and telling me how wrong I am because it doesn't line up with the current social norm.

I can't tell you how many times I have stated my opinion on something political, only to have someone get offended and attack me. I use the word attack because that's exactly what it is.

I am all for a constructive discussion. You and I have differing opinions? Let's sit down and talk calmly about them. I'm the kind of person that wants to know what you think and why you think that. I want to know what your facts are and what you're basing your ideas on. I am all about that. And if we still disagree at the end of our discussion, which we probably will, then let's accept that we think differently and move on without any resentment or hurt feelings.

But whenever I try to tell people that, they like to continue to argue with me. It's like the idea that we could actually have a civil discussion without agreeing on anything is a fairy tale to them and they can't fathom it. They would rather hurl insults and accusations instead of trying to understand where I'm coming from.

News flash, I probably think you're just as misguided too but I'm not going to sit behind my computer screen and call you names or say hateful things because I think you're delusional.

Our society preaches about love and tolerance but this is the most intolerant and hateful culture I've ever seen. The same celebrities who tweet obscenities toward our president travel to Africa to kiss babies. If you say gay marriage is wrong, you are automatically labeled a bigot. If you say your life goal is to be a stay-at-home mom, you're labeled anti-feminist. If you disagree with anything other than what is popular, you're wrong. And God forbid you mention your religion as a part of your basis for your opinion.

We need to step-back and have a reality-check. Our country was founded on different opinions and that's what makes us so great. The different cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds of everyone help make us a diverse melting pot of a nation. It is our fundamental right as a human to have our own opinions and beliefs. It is not your right to attack, either verbally or physically, when someone says something you don't like.

It's time to get over our feelings and suck it up.

If you're marching or protesting in the name of tolerance and love, you need to practice what you preach. Just because I have a different opinion than you doesn't automatically mean I hate you. Before you rush to conclusions about what you think I believe, why don't you ask me to explain?

So, let's have a conversation and agree to disagree. Calmly, cordially and still remaining friends. Because that's what tolerant and loving people do.

Sheri Kotzum is a reporter for The Destin Log. She can be reached at skotzum@thedestinlog.com or 315-4353.