American Culture

People want me dead

If that got your attention, okay, that’s clickbaity, but without a click, and it’s true. It’s not just paranoia. Indulge me a moment, if you’re inclined.

I clearly do better when I just do not watch the news and keep my head buried in geekery. Because when I do start paying attention to news, I let myself get sucked in again. I check out the mainstream news not to find out what’s going on in the world, but what the MSM audience likely believes is going on in the world. Those are two different things. I look at partisan news so I can compare and see what they aren’t talking about. I watch the word games they all play. It’s disgusting. It’s like passing roadkill and rubbernecking because it’s mesmerizing somehow. And I’m just not inclined to buy what most are selling without giving it far more consideration than I’m usually willing to give it. No thanks, keep the pamphlet, not interested, thank you.

And I read the comments to see how these various manipulations are received and learn much about how the most vocally awful people on both sides appear to feel about each other. And since I tend to swat out in all directions, I’m so fortunate to receive those vocally awful feels from twice the commenters. My fault. I know better than to look. I know better than to think I’m the Asshole Whisperer.

It’s still revealing. I console myself with the fact that it’s really just one glimpse at life through one lens, though, one particular social medium and the news/op-eds on the web generally. Through the internet. And I don’t know that anything I see here is actually representative of the broader population or not.

But that doesn’t much matter. Sometimes I don’t care if Group A is only 0.000000x% of some bigger group. I care that it equals 4000 sometimes. Billy ate 0.0000000x% of the donuts is a different story than Billy ate 4000 donuts.

There’s a big difference between 10 murderers in your neighborhood and 100 murderers in your neighborhood, percentages be damned. If there’s a 1000 monsters in the woods, maybe I’d best avoid those woods. If there’s 10,000 bad actors, I’m wondering which small town just declared war on everybody else (in terms of scale…holy shit, a small town worth of people what?). If 100,000 people get some notion in their head that’s generally bad for the general public, that’s potential for some serious mayhem. We use smaller numbers of ground troops.

So yeah, I read the comments, and I read them with some dismay when I see the regularity across the spectrum of various parties wishing the worst ills on the others. I’m no different. I wanted Giant Meteor in 2016, and I’ll want it again in 2020. I’d like to say one side is crasser than the other, but I don’t think there’s style points available for wishing death to the opposition.

But in terms of outright will to kill, clear statements that people need to be killed, ought to be killed, will be killed, and how much better the world will be when they’re killed, and how they’ll gladly take part in the killing, one side takes the cake. The worst of the left has nothing to compare to the sheer volume of great willingness to see people on the left killed.

I don’t know how many people that is. I don’t know what percentage of internet users it is, what percentage of Americans it is. Is it just one creepy guy in some basement somewhere pretending to be a bunch of other people? Russian plants on the internet there to stir strife in the US? Is it 10? 25? 100?

If one creepy guy on late late night on some off-channel says you need to be shot, do you worry? When do you start paying attention? When 10 creeps want you shot? “Nah, I’m a 100 creeps kinda guy today!” yesterday. “100 creeps? Nah, gimme a thousand creeps who want me shot! Bring it!”

Really, how many people need to want to see you dead, see your family dead, see your friends dead, see your coworkers dead, before you think maybe there’s a problem?

I can still deal with that, though. It’s just 1000, 10,000 randos on the internet, emboldened on their moms’ sofas in all those basements, angry at everything and free in their cowardice to post anonymously. Mostly a tiny minority of comments, but wow, are they out there. Some percentage, though. Forget that, some concrete number, 1, 10, 100, who knows, feel it. Mean it. Are capable of it. And are talking themselves into a constant frenzy for it, like a bunch of radicalized religious terrorists of any stripe, and we see how that works out elsewhere.

And in the face of that, one would expect to see calls for moderation and peace. We certainly expect reasonable and peaceful Muslim people overseas to speak out against the radicalized violent nutjobs over there, to contain them, to stop them from spreading their irrational hate.

Where is that pushback here?

That’s what concerns me more than the threats. There’s not 10,000 goons immediately coming for me. There’s the appearance of 10,000 goons rooting for it to happen. And as we’ve seen over and over again, recently in Portland, it only takes one hate junkie to go off his damned nut. Maybe I’m crazy, but the lone nutter doesn’t scare me.

What worries me is the silence. The lack of pushback. It creates the appearance that, were the shit to actually hit the fan and the people over there on Team A actually start killing the people over on Team B, folks are basically okay with that. That’s one of the problems with that whole “tacit consent” thing, and why the pussy-grabbing on those terms was off-the-charts screwed up. It’s not about offense. It’s about what people let slide. What they endorse with their silence.

And yeah, both sides do it, to varying degrees and in varying styles, with various justifications which amount to various piles of bullshit. In the minds of nutters, that tacit consent is all they need to show the world how they really feel one day.

And because it goes both ways, and because I think any amount of violent nutters above 0 is too many violent nutters to want my friends (and me) dead, I think it’s fair to say this request goes out to anyone who bothers to read it.

Wherever you and I might disagree, that’s cool. I don’t want you dead for it. And where your family and friends and their families and my friends and their families might disagree, I don’t want any of them dead for it. It’s worrisome to think that, statistically speaking, I might know someone who thinks killing my friends and their families is a sentiment to which they are not entirely opposed.

The sad thing is, I think everybody knows people who tacitly endorse their deaths.

So here’s my request. Honor it or not. It’s not meant to impinge on anyone’s right to think and feel whatever they damned well please, regardless of their inclinations. It’s just a little thing that, once upon a time not so long ago, I don’t think any of us ever had to even consider asking their friends.

Seriously, can you imagine in 1990 having to ask this question?

Or in 1980?

So here’s my request, because these are my friends (some of whom *are* family) and their families I’m talking about here, and probably *your* family and friends. If you hear someone saying they think we need to be killed, do you think you could be troubled to ask them not to do that?

It’s a big favor to ask, but like I said, it wasn’t that long ago people didn’t even have to dream of being such a horrible imposition.

4 replies »

  1. I know this is a bizarre idea, but sometimes I think the US could do with a small measure of leftist terrorism. Like the Weather Underground or a new SDS with teeth. Not because terror is good, of course, but because I think it would be healthy for some of the people you’re talking about to have a little fear in their lives. I think they have taken liberal for weak and compassionate for fearful, and they believe they can bully people into submission. That they’re often right is depressing to me.

    They like to say that an armed society is a polite society. If this is true – and I’m not saying it is, but for the sake of argument – then I can’t help thinking how nice it would be if EVERYONE were more polite, if you take my meaning.

    Meantime, I’m a gun-owning liberal and was taught early on – as in, by the age of 10 – how to use firearms. As long as the people you describe are running loose and feeling empowered, I can’t really advise my progressive friends not to buy guns and take classes and get conceal carry permits, can I?

    You know, in the name of devil’s advocacy, right?

  2. In the spirit of the post, I’ll have to disagree with the need for any terrorism, regardless of which side initiates it.

    In the spirit of your closing comment, I can only agree. All I know is that if it’s in my crosshairs and I pull the trigger, it goes down. Wanting to see an end to death threats doesn’t mean I’m just going to curl up in a ball and get savaged politely while waiting for first responders to arrive.