Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Measuring Our Words

By Sniffles

After a Presidential election in which the losing winning candidate campaigned on hate, divisiveness and fear, we cats are unsurprised to see incidents of vitriol and violence cropping up.

From the "ape in heels" Face Thing posts of two racist (and now, unemployed) women from Clay County, West Virginia, to a "Make America Great Again" high school student punched and kicked by his anti-Trump peers in Rockville, Maryland — well, it's getting pretty ugly out there. At the same time, our President is over in Greece, speaking in support of democracy and warning the world that we need to "guard against a rise in a crude sort of nationalism or ethnic identity or tribalism that is built around an 'us' and a 'them.'"

(This leaves us scratching our heads a bit, since democracy is the very form of government that most allows speeches of hate, divisiveness, etc. to flourish. The President left that part unaddressed — maybe because a free press is supposed to call bullshit on that stuff. But we all know how that turned out this year.)

Fearing for the Trumpster kid's safety, a parent who witnessed the Rockville anti-Trump demonstration tried to get him to leave. He refused: "I have my right to free speech, too!" Yes, he does. But perhaps a trip to the hospital has helped him understand what can happen, rightly or wrongly, fairly or not, when he exercises it.

We cats are not defending his attackers — far from it. But we'd like that Trumpy student to appreciate the hateful atmosphere that his candidate created by demonizing people who were not like him. Donald Trump was the king of Us vs. Them. And we've seen no backsliding from him on that score.

So can we all agree? Words matter. They get people upset. Sometimes they get people beaten up, and sometimes they get people fired. They must be chosen carefully. Trump would call that "political correctness." But speech is a weapon best handled with care. We cats HISS.

No comments: