June 17, 2017

Sidebar: After the Bullets...

There has been no let up in the comments and discussions following the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise and three others at the ball park in Alexandria, VA.

Calls for unity, and cooperation, and tamped down rhetoric, and bipartisanship across the spectrum, from regular people to public servants in Washington continue, even as a couple of handsfull of Republican men meet in secret to reform healthcare, one sixth of the American economy. (They must not have gotten the memo?) And while many are hopeful, most are not holding out hope that this will last any longer than these types of "calls for (fill in the blank)" typically last - five or six news cycles? Ten, maybe?

Lotf of people have mentioned out that Donald Trump, both as a candidate and since the election, has been a key factor in emboldening people on the fringes, through his 'textbook' racist comments and his denigration of, well, pretty much everyone, whether overt (women, Mexicans, POWs, Gold star families, the disabled) or covert (blacks, uneducated people, and more), via his hideously insulting professions of "love" for them.

Others have blamed Barack Obama (no specific examples, just in general), Bill Clinton (same), Hillary Clinton (her basket of deplorables), Congressional Democrats, liberals in Hollywood, free speech protesters at Berkeley, Congressional Republicans, Rush Limbaugh... even, again, regular people like me who express opinions around the vast water cooler that is "social media."

(Ironically, I've yet to see someone blame lifelong Independent Bernie Sanders, the candidate of choice for the gunman, according to his social media record. Sanders, by the way, is still widely and erroneously described in the media as the Democratic Senator of Vermont, which is mind-boggling to me, but that's a whole nother post.)

The bully pulpit, it seems, whether the one at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave or the one at The Little Garden in The Valley, where I sit, is actually filled with bullies.

This hand-wringing about the words we use and how we use them, would not be occurring to this degree had the gunman not targeted members of Congress. It does not occur, as I noted in my post, when extreme words about abortion lead to murder.

It did not happen, to this elevated level, when racist words and beliefs led to the murder of churchgoers at Mother Emmanuel.

It did not happen, even, when the Sandy Hook murders were claimed to be fake; parents are still hounded by people who believed the words, and acted on them.

It did not happen when the citizenship of President Obama was challenged.

It did not happen, did it, when Hillary Clinton's lesbian-child-sex-ring from the-back-of-a-pizza parlor led to a man going there to take matters into his own hands?

When we challenge each other on the power of words, we're told they don't matter. Violent movies, video games, song lyrics? They have no impact, we're told, and besides, that's artistic freedom. Same with references to drugs, smoking, drinking and sex - mainstream movie sex, I'm talking about, not porn. Those don't matter, they don't influence anyone, that's just art. (Maybe someone should tell the ad agencies that their work doesn't matter?)

All of this, we're told, people know it's not real. They know it's fake. And yet, "fake news" influenced our presidential election, and continues to influence people's thoughts, opinions, conversations, and memes.

Words don't matter, we're told. Until something like this happens, and the political becomes personal. Then, everything matters.
But, as you all know, tonight's game has taken on a much deeper level of meaning. Beyond anything that we would have thought. By playing tonight, your are showing the world that we will not be intimidated by threats, acts of violence, or assaults on our Democracy. The game will go on.
Here are some words I think matter.
If people, politicians and pundits really believe that words matter, they need to believe that all of them do. If people, politicians and pundits really believe that inflammatory rhetoric matters, they need to believe that all of it matters. If people, politicians and pundits really believe that extremism matters, they need to believe that all of it matters. If people, politicians and pundits really believe that gunmen shoot innocent people because they have mental health issues, they need to believe that all of them have mental health issues.
If people, politicians and pundits want to show the world that we will not be intimidated by threats, acts of violence or assaults on our democracy, we all need to play the game as if that really matters. 
Ladies and gentlemen, let's play ball.