Those who read my articles surely know by now I tilt at windmills on the Internet. Most people in my circle of acquaintance see the inhumanity and incivility and they just accept it; they say, “What do you expect? It’s the Internet.” And they let it go.
I could, I suppose, but I’ve long believed that we all have a duty to improve the world around us if we can; that an accumulation of small good deeds and kindnesses is the only bulwark we can raise against that genuine evil which is out there, always waiting. The best way we can fight against acts of horror is to make certain that we ourselves can be the sort of people that can inspire those around us to be better.
And so I tilt at windmills, knowing most of my words will fall on deaf ears. I’m rather more confident in the lasting good done when I pick up garbage from the side of the road, but… we do what we can where we are, and I’m here.
A little while ago, I saw a thought-provoking post about the recent Republican baseball shooting in Alexandria. The fellow who wrote it raised the point that nobody had actually died (for which he was grateful), and that it shouldn’t be treated the same as, for instance, the Orlando nightclub shooting. I was about to respond to his point, saying that perhaps what the country could use right now is some good news for a change.
And then I read the comments.
Here’s what I responded instead. Bear in mind that I’ve said the same to folks of every political persuasion, and with equal vehemence — and I’ve also had it said to me, in another form, one time or another when I was being thoughtlessly awful.
I am, I must confess, astounded at the lack of thought shown here in the comments. This is the Internet, after all, so the lack of humanity is hardly surprising, but—
Look, let me explain, then you can block me if you like. But listen, please; this is important.
I saw this because I know one of the people who commented, and I almost scrolled past. I’m a stranger to most of you, and yet I can read what you’re saying. If I were a rabid Republican or a self-identified Deplorable, right now I’d be more than ever convinced that the left wing in this country is hateful beyond belief, devoid of human feeling, and embraces its principles with a fervor reminiscent of the most dogmatically religious.
The initial post was valid; it raised the question of false equivalence between spree shootings. It’s a logical point, and there’s discussion to be had there. I would like to have responded, because there’s a very real phenomenon at work and we ought to examine it.
Likewise, the gun control discussion is one with which the entire nation needs to be involved. Too long have we seen palliative measures or bitter fights over meaningless and ineffective political points — because, to be honest about it, neither party sees any clear way forward other than to vilify each other. The which vilification, incidentally, is exactly what inspires unstable people like Dylan Roof and this Hodgkinson twit.
But the comments here— Good Lord! There’s thirty people writing how Republicans deserved it because Republicans are evil. Some of it is veiled; some is rationalized; there are disclaimers — but that’s what most of these comments are saying: That your political opponents are evil people and deserve to be shot because it’s ironic.
This is no way to convince anyone of anything. But that’s OK, because Republicans are stubborn in their evil.
Ladies and gentlemen, take a look at yourselves. You are the problem, and I’m ashamed of you.