Monday, October 22, 2012

“Obama Lies America Dies”

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?

--Mike Sato

3 comments:

  1. Mike, you are correct: America is not dying and our President has not lied. But stupidity and outright false claims have never stopped those opposed to progress in ranting against the very core of our foundation. It is, indeed, tempting to smack someone on the head whenever stupid comments are made or when they carry signs, bumper stickers, or begin an email chain with false information. However, you are correct again in stating that such actions do not help, they stop discussions on their tracks.

    However, the problem I have found with people of narrow minds is that once they get a hold of a mantra, right or wrong, they never let go - no matter what we counter with. And having an "intelligent discussion" with them feels like an oxymoron.

    Romney keeps saying over and over how "this administration" has lost us millions of jobs, how our deficit has increased, and it's all Obama's fault. But to speak the absolute truth would not get him any votes or money: A Republican administration brought us the snowball effect of a tumbling economy due to 2 waged wars, rampant corruption in the mostly unregulated finance world, and plenty of tax cuts that decimated jobs and much-needed programs. Such actions made a crooked Vice President, Secretary of Defense, and many companies even richer with favored contracts and kickbacks. And we, the people, will be paying the price for years to come.

    Such truths are not convenient for the opponents of President Obama so, instead, inaccurate information is thrown to the masses.

    At state and national level, if Romney wins we will see more than losses to programs. We will see the elimination (or dire reduction) of agencies like EPA and Ecology, and funding for any type of environmental protection will disappear.

    It is almost like those opposed to protections really believe that our planet will "keep on going" even as they destroy and pillage all our natural resources. Now that is being stupid.

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    1. Thoughtfully said, Connie. My real concern is the issue of how we govern in a winner-take-all climate where one's opponents are demonized. And it isn't limited to elections which are guided by majority rule; it extends to a whole host of public policy decisions about education, public safety, and health which really should be governed by reaching a community consensus. But we have to be able to talk about it to each other first. Mike

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  2. Well said, Mike. I wish I could say that I always engage in speech that invites civil discussion. But what in the name of the Taliban is wrong with those Republicans and Tea Partiers??!!

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