I made a mistake this weekend.
Okay, so that particular opening ain’t terribly helpful, let alone surprising. Maybe I should elaborate: I read the comment section on a news story. And not just any news story, but one about Barbara Bush’s funeral.
Now, look…in many cases, I like comment sections. I’ve mentioned before that they are far-and-away the most entertaining part of any story about “flat earthers” — or any conspiracy story, really — and they can be seriously fun to peruse at the end of sports stories.
They can also, from time to time, provide a counter-balance to the biases and editorial slants that all writers bring to their stories (whether consciously or not). Unfortunately, those same comment sections can also be the worst cesspools of hate, anger and utter vitriol on the face of the planet.
They are also a pretty damned good barometer of just where I fear our society is headed.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter who you like or dislike. Just as it doesn’t matter how much you like or dislike them. That’s your business. Liking someone who I don’t has no bearing on your worth as a human being, nor on our ability to be friends. That’s just plain common sense…or at least it should be. Any person who decides another is stupid — or evil, or malfeasant, or any of the other insults folks like to throw around — based solely on their politics and who they like, however, is the problem.
I can hear what you’re thinking right now: but those are online comments, those are the anonymous posturings of weak, vicious people who would never have the “courage” to utter anything like that in real life…
Sadly, I know far too many people — good people, in general — who fall into that very same trap to have any real confidence in humanity. I know far too many people who can watch or read a news story, and attack one side or the other in the most virulent, personal manner. I know far too many people who do judge the “worth” of others based on who they voted for, or who they read, or who they support.*
*Do I REALLY have to mention again that this is in no way absolute? David Duke, Louis Farrakhan, and the rest of the dangerous psychos, have no part in this discussion. See my posts about Roy Freaking Moore if you want insight into my limits…here, here and here.
To give this an anecdotal, personal slant (since this is a personal blog): I have more than once mentioned my own libertarianism, and the fact that I voted for neither “side” in the last election. Yeah, I’m that guy, the one who “threw away” his vote on a third-party. If you think I don’t get judged and attacked by both sides because of it, I want some of what you’re smoking…
The bottom line, to keep this on the topic I started with, is that a person is neither evil nor insane simply because they believe differently. Barbara Bush was not a Nazi, nor was she the wife and mother of mass murdering war criminals. She was a woman of dignity and strength who tried her best to reach out to all Americans, and to be a wife, mother and grandmother with whom we could all find some common ground.
To those who DID post the comments: whether you like her or not, whether you agree with her or not, dehumanizing and attacking a 92-year-old who just passed says far more about you than it does about her.
I’m becoming more and more convinced that it’s time for our entire society to go back to kindergarten and start over…