That’s what the bumper sticker on the SUV with the Romney/Ryan sticker said.
My first reaction in the post office parking lot was to punch out the old guy who got out of the vehicle.
Of course I didn’t but my visceral anger surprised me. I hear all kinds of ignorant people saying ignorant things and sometimes people know better, which makes them stupid people saying stupid things. And I usually shrug it off.
But this crossed the line. This was political hate speech.
I’ve disagreed with a lot of people but in only one or two instances would I have considered the disagreement based on the other person having told a lie, that is, made “a false statement with deliberate intent to deceive.” There have been false statements and misunderstanding but very rarely a deliberate intent to deceive.
The President hasn’t lied, and neither is America dying.
Some places and people are having a hard time of it and we need to fix a lot of systems to make sure everyone has a fair shot at a good living— but America isn’t dying. To say America is dying is an insult to all the people who are working hard to make it work better.
The real trouble with political hate speech is that it spurs hateful reactions, like wanting to punch someone out. It doesn’t invite discussion; it kills discussion. I want to live in a civil society where I can discuss the facts that support my values and differ in my conclusions without hating those with whom I might disagree.
This isn’t just about political speech during election years. It’s about how we conduct ourselves in advocating for and against a major project like coal ports and pipelines, shoreline developments, endangered species protection, mineral extraction, logging, fisheries regulation, water rights— you name your issue.
So, what say?