Warning: this post contains strong language. I've tried to tame it down with strategic asterisks, but reader discretion is advised anyway.
It’s the day after the first presidential debate of the 2012 election cycle. I watched the debate with Facebook open, so I had a real-time view of other people’s opinions on what was said and how.
To put it bluntly, the venom was spewing.
I saw an overwhelming amount of hateful remarks, name-calling, belittling, bullying and all around not-niceness. It came from young and old, men and women. Here are some of them, all direct quotes (not for the linguistically squeamish):
Rude. Liar. Bully. Sucks. Retarded. C**ks****r. White *ss cracker. Freaking flaky *ss motherf****r.
I cannot understand this. So much violence against a person you’ve never even met. So much hostility for someone you simply disagree with. The authors of some of these comments I know consider themselves Christians. Is it any wonder we have an epidemic of bullying, suicide and physical violence in our schools? It is possible to disagree with someone and not hate them—I know, I do it every day.
It doesn’t stop at the candidates themselves. One person wrote: “anyone with half a brain knows who they must vote for.” That targets regular people—including, I daresay, at least some of the author’s family, friends, neighbors. I may disagree with the way a candidate addresses a certain issue, but I am not stupid, and I resent being considered so.
I don't care which candidate you support. This type of talk is unacceptable. It doesn't make you cool or smart or superior. I would say it makes you a bully or a jerk, but I won't. I'm trying to be civil.
(My “research” for this little essay was not scientific in any way. However, is it interesting to note that every one of my examples was directed against a single candidate: Mitt Romney. I know my Facebook newsfeed skews pretty far left on the political scale, though I know there are many conservatives in there too. So, in fairness, I made an effort to find equally inflammatory language against President Obama on my Facebook. While I did find some comments against the president, I could not find a single one that used name-calling or obscenities. Draw conclusions at your own risk.)