Let me tell you this. I created a Facebook page for Imjustacop.com, and today I received my first vitriolic comment. It was bound to happen sooner or later, and frankly, I am a bit surprised it didn’t happen sooner. Someone who had previously liked the post in question came to my defense, but sadly was only slightly less caustic. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am certainly grateful that someone supported me, I am just saddened at the lack of civility between people of different ideologies.
It has never been more apparent that the divide between the left and the right seems to grow wider each and every day. As I’ve said before, just because someone is extremely passionate about their beliefs, does not mean he can’t be civil. I am very passionate, and sometimes people take that as a sign of close mindedness, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I love to hear opposing views, because it is only through the open and free exchange of thoughts, opinions, and different perspectives that one can truly educate oneself. If you exclusively converse and interact with people of like minds, you limit your intake of knowledge. The problem is it appears people have become so very intolerant of opposing views, and that isn’t good. The internet is infamous for such behavior.
I frequent many political websites, and I am an avid reader of comments, and I see it all the time: people spewing venom at others for no other reason than simply because those people hold opposing views. It’s on both political sides too, no side is innocent. What is to be gained by behaving so childish? When you stoop to the level of someone behaving like a cretin, you demean yourself. Whenever a person distracts from the point at hand, and resorts to attacking someone personally, he weakens his position. If you disagree, and can’t seem to prove your point, why not just say, “Let’s agree to disagree?” I completely understand how the Internet can embolden people. Sitting at one’s computer, typing a response rather than looking someone in the eye face to face, creates a false bravado in many people. I call it “Internet muscles” and people who bully others online “Internet tough guys”. People feel secure sitting behind a monitor, a security easily lost when debating in person. But while the Internet certainly can induce rude behavior, such behavior is hardly unique to the Internet.
I realize the frustration of not being able to convince someone of what you believe to be the stronger position, but what I don’t understand is the frequent animosity that follows. The United States was founded on liberty and the right to free speech. Liberty gives us the right to hold an opinion, and free speech grants us the right to speak said opinion without fear of reprisal. Yet that notion has become lost on so many people. I believe that political correctness plays no small part in this.
Political correctness smothers that liberty, and it gags free speech. People now give priority to feelings rather than the founding principles of our country, and that, in my view, is wrong. I believe it does more harm than good. I am all for politeness and proper social etiquette, but when all is said and done, I am a very strong advocate of the old children’s rhyme “sticks and bones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” It very well may be that in protecting society’s feelings for so long, we have weakened its tolerance, and hence when someone’s feelings get hurt by an opposing view, they lash out. People hold their tongues in fear of offending someone, and that appears to have removed society’s ability to simply disagree.
I certainly don’t have the answer. I wish I did. I can’t stand the fact that people can’t seem to rationally debate. I don’t like that politics has become so stagnated by obstruction, and that neither side tries much for diplomacy. Politicians don’t debate anymore, they repudiate one another. I am all for grandstanding, and I am guilty of it myself. Catchy headlines and coming on strong usually has the effect of grabbing people’s attention, and motivating them to engage in dialogue. But once that dialogue is initiated, normal social etiquette should be followed. Bitter rants, angry raves and heated rancor have no place in a debate. If society can’t tolerate a simple difference of opinion, how can it ever expect to persevere? So the next time someone “pisses you off” because you can’t seem to get your point across to them, try to take the high road. Try to remain magnanimous. It will increase your chance of success, certainly more than calling him an idiot. But hey, I’m just a cop.by