I have become discombobulated due to internet.
Since this is my platform and it is tiny I feel I can discuss the issue here, although I am worried about stirring up even more conflict, of which I am very afraid. Yesterday I saw an article posted to Tumblr. It was this one:
If you don’t feel like clicking the link, don’t bother. All you need to know is that a Democratic Party official said he was glad that Steve Scalise got shot and he wished Scalise had died. The post on tumblr had four or five comments, all to the effect of, “I agree with this man! I wish I could buy him a beer and we could hang out.”
That bothered me. Not in a knee-jerk, fuck you kind of way, because I think Steve Scalise is a monster and I certainly don’t wish him any good. I was uncomfortable in a more insidious way. A way that crawls under the surface and hides there, because you feel unhappy but at the same time you don’t want to fight with people who are supposed to be on the same team with you. I have encountered this feeling before, and I recognized it.
So here was the comment I posted:
Okay yes, we all agree that Scalise is slime, but you can’t just SAY things like this, and you CAN’T have them recorded, and you CAN’T DO IT IF YOU ARE A PARTY OFFICIAL.
Statements like this are seen as tacit approval of violence, and last time I checked, the Democratic Party is fighting for better health care and MORE gun control so that FEWER PEOPLE WILL GET SHOT.
I know a lot of people are getting off the “They go low, we go high,” bandwagon because it’s allowed the GOP to sabotage and undermine us. But when BOTH parties are parties of sabotage, deceit, and straight up murder, then we really will be living in the Purge and I’m still hoping to avoid that.
(But like seriously fuck Scalise forever.)
I got one response, which honestly is one more than I expected to get. But it made me pretty unhappy. “I don’t think you’re trying to be a concern troll, but you are,” it said. Basically, the gist of the response was that the commenters replying to say they supported this man who wants Scalise dead should not have been scolded for saying so, and that one incident will not turn the Democratic party violent and I should calm the fuck down.
Was I hysterical? I mean, I don’t think so but I did use the caps lock key a couple of times, so maybe.
But here are my honest and true feelings:
I don’t like violence and I utterly abhor the celebration of violence. And there is a difference between saying, “Eat the Rich” and “I personally am happy that that particular person, that one right there, was shot with a gun, and I’m going to say so publicly so that he and all of his friends and family will hear me say it.”
That’s not a good look, you guys.
And for me, it’s not just the look of the thing. That’s secondary.
Remember this scene from Inglourious Basterds? It’s a movie theatre full of Nazis dying.
I saw this in a full movie theatre and everybody cheered when it happened, and it made me feel pretty upset.
“I don’t like how happy everybody is about all those people getting killed,” I said to my friend.
“But they’re Nazis,” she said.
And I said, “I know, but they’re people. Do we have to be so happy about it?”
The thing I’m trying to get at here, and maybe I’m doing a bad job, is that I am very concerned about what my reaction to violence says about me, what anyone’s reaction to violence says about them. If you’re okay with it happening to someone you don’t like, you’re okay with it happening at all.
You’re okay with it.
“Not all the time!” is what I get back, when I try to explain this idea to people. “Those people are the bad people! They deserve bad things, and the world is better off without them! It’s all about context!”
I understand context. I understand that some people make the world a worse place.
But do you know how easy it is to change a person’s context? Do you ever think about how easy it would be to change yours?
I’m no angel. There are people in the world I hate, and would like to see gone. There are people that I might even like to see suffering, and I’m not proud to say that. So far, I haven’t had the satisfaction so I don’t know how I would react if that situation ever came up. I hope I would be compassionate, or at least quiet about it. I hope I wouldn’t be gleeful.
If I am a concern troll, then very well, I am a concern troll. I can’t say I’m happy about it. It isn’t my place to tell people how they ought to feel about anything.
I think it is worthwhile to be more thoughtful about how we react to situations like this. As individuals and as leaders, and as a society (I don’t know if you heard, but most societies are made up of individuals, and sometimes also leaders). I think it is worthwhile to say so. I think society benefits from people caring about others, and trying to show empathy even when it’s hard, and encouraging others to be their best selves. I don’t think society benefits when we shoot each other and wish each other harm.
This all seems so obvious that people get angry at me when I say it, as if I’m telling them they’re too dumb to know it already. But if we all know it and we all agree, why do we have to keep arguing about it all the time?