Recently, at the office (a place I sometimes affectionately refer to as Obama Central), I made the mistake of printing out a Washington Post editorial that questioned the foreign policy expertise of our new Commander-in-Chief. By the time I got to the printer to pick it up, someone else had already seen it - and stamped “DENIED” across the top of the page in red ink. Next to that was scrawled, “RIGHT WINGER GO HOME.”

The first thing that went through my mind was: cross burnings. The second was: children are evil (my workplace is overrun by hundreds of twentysomethings).
tried to be rational. Whoever defaced the page had no way of knowing who had printed it out - just as I had no idea who the defacer was - so it wasn’t personal. Still, it was hurtful.

And it was bigoted. The defacer didn’t know anything about me - my political affilitation, my sex, my race, nothing. Die hard Democrats read mainstream editorials, don’t they? So much for the good will of Dave Matthews’s “American Prayer” starring Idi Amin and Perez Hilton - and Michael Moore’s patronizing, post-Election email exhorting his followers to be kind to their Republican friends (as if they have any).

I’ve been the object of hate before. As a teenager, holding my black boyfriend’s hand in Greenwich Village, a truck swerved to hit us while we waited to cross the street. To be honest, I prefer that kind of hate. It’s direct, out in the open, and in response to an action - in that case, our hand-holding - not in response to a thought. Had I committed a hate crime without realizing it?

As I headed back to my office, images of the Ku Klux Klan, going after people they didn’t know in the middle of the night, raced across my brain. Then I had to stop myself. And chuckle. There was no comparison.

But my gut kept telling me there was. Whoever stamped ”DENIED” across my document clearly felt justified in defacing it. Though petty, this was a hostile act - another tiny blow in the insidious war on free thought. And one thing I’ve noticed in the stifling PC smog of LA: the Obama generation doesn’t think twice about openly ridiculing folks who don’t follow in lockstep. They’re still acting like there’s a Texan in the White House. They can’t let go. They don’t want to. Because, like the believers of a certain 7th century ideology that’s made a big comeback in recent years, their objective is not, despite claims to the contrary, to coexist. To quote Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, it’s “to rule.”

Instead of gossiping at the water cooler, today’s privileged jugend hover in packs around TV monitors to mock the usual suspects - poor old Sarah Palin, the Tea Partiers, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Miss California (chivalry is deader than dead). Together, they telegraph their warning to anyone who might disagree: don’t.

They believe Loose Change is an important documentary, Al Franken a natural for the Senate, and Arlen Specter a hero. They judge people not for their principles or achievements, but by the letter that comes after their name. The one coworker I saw who dared walk the Yes We Can-festooned halls in a McCain T-shirt last fall got singled out by a supervisor (”Are you serious?”). The answer? Of course not - the tee had been donned as a joke.

Kids today. They enjoy complete freedom to open their pieholes at the slightest brainfart. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. That should be a benefit of freedom. Yet despite the apparent spontaneity of their farts, a strange uniformity pervades.

To their credit, Americans born after 1980 seem to be almost entirely free of old-time prejudices like homophobia - kudos to Will & Grace, I guess - though it’s hard to tell where genuine acceptance ends and “Vote No on Prop 8″ fanaticism begins. Where I work, no one voted “yes” - at least no one would say so - so we’ll never know if “DENIED” would have been stamped across a human forehead.

But too much of a good thing, even media-sanctioned tolerance, becomes oppressive. “You’re so negative” is an accusation I’ve heard many times since moving to Hollywood, usually in response to less than total elation about the release of the latest Spiderman sequel or the nasal squeals of the current American Idol. Whatever happened to critical thinking?