Wednesday, March 24, 2010

And the descent continues...

Earlier today, I wrote a post about a march/rally to thank Congressman Harry Mitchell for his vote on health care reform that took place in Tempe yesterday. During the march, a woman collapsed and needed to be resuscitated and hospitalized, and in the post I linked to an AZRepublic article on the woman/march.

At one point, the story was open to commenting on the Rep's website. That lasted approximately three hours, and then the editors of the Rep had to close comments and pull down those that had already been submitted.

In that few hours, what should have been a "feel good" piece about someone surviving an acute illness brought out some seriously vicious trolls, who hijacked the thread and turned it into an outlet for hate and bile.

For example (bolding and italics utilized solely to indicate separate quotes):

They should have let her die just to prove a point. Fricken hilarious! (commenter DISSONANT)

Ironically, people this woman's age are going to be the ones screwed the worst by the plan. She'll eventually be hauled off to a corner somewhere so she can die a9lone with dignity. (commenter AngryPatriot)

Thinking it was the Grim Reaper, she became gripped with terror when she saw that giant sickle coming for her.
Lo and behold, it was just one of her comrade's red flags flapping in the breeze. (commenter GannettStockChart)

Too bad it wasn't obama, pelosi, and reid having the heart attacks with no one there to help them. That would be great! (commenter demsrslime)


"The woman, who was not identified, collapsed during a rally to celebrate U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell's vote in favor of health care legislation"


Karma. (commenter FailRail)

And that's just a sampling from the first couple of pages of comments, which were all that I got to save before the Rep's editors pulled them down.

Any questions about how ugly this summer is going to be?

The last time things were this bad, which perhaps not so coincidentally was immediately after the last serious attempt at health care reform, Timothy McVeigh, perhaps egged on by extremist rhetoric from right wing talk radio (Rush and his ilk were already going strong) and Republican so-called leaders in Congress, blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City and murdered over 160 men, women, and children.

I fervently hope it doesn't get that far, but my hopes won't be enough to stop that from happening.

The R "leadership", if it ever again wants to be considered part of civil society, will denounce the vandalism, violence, and violent rhetoric that their tea partiers have embraced, and do so in clear, unambiguous terms.

I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen, and I can't recommend that anybody else do so, either.


Thane Eichenauer said...

A group of people pass an unpopular piece of legislation. An opposing group finds the legislation oppressive and speaks out. One proposed solution would be to persuade the opposing group to stop talking about the legislation. Another solution would be to stop passing legislation that people find oppressive.

For the Democrats to successfully persuade non-Democrats to conform to their definition of what is civil would mean that they would have to abandon their opposition to ever increasing government.

Why can't Democrats abandon their attachment to the uncivil idea that government should take ever more money from taxpayers and pass ever more laws regulating private contracts?

cpmaz said...

Thane -

Death threats, bricks through windows, and racial and homophobic epithets aren't free speech, nor are they legitimate criticisms or dissent.

Thane Eichenauer said...

When you have two groups of people who disagree as to what is the proper role of government and the group in power imposes additional burdens upon the minority there are four means of dissent: free speech no matter how disagreeable, working within the system (such as parliamentary rules and judicial appeals), voting and then violence.

Given the substantial advantage that the US government has in being able to punish people in various ways I am surprised that people have felt motivated to resort to bricks, threats of violence and offensive (but constitutionally protected) speech.

Those who oppose the current health care legislation claim that the Democratic administration is imposing unconstitutional laws upon America. While that is a claim often made I would say that from what can be gathered from coverage of Republican elected officials that they are doing a very convincing job (compared to yesteryear) of making the claim "this time we really mean it". The Democrats in power have the same position that the Republicans had when they were in the majority, "Don't bother me, we are governing."

I personally think it would be very sensible to scale down the current health care legislation until you can persuade the liberal Republicans in congress to agree to it but given the pervasive belief that marjoritarianism is the only principle that need be deferred to in order to be "legitimate" or "civil" I am also not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Senator John McCain suggests that the current health care legislation process should be stopped and started again from the beginning. That suggestion has been dismissed.

I am past hoping that the party in power will reconsider their unthinking reliance on majoritarianism and might makes right. It didn't prevent the Oklahoma City bombing from occurring in 1995 and the current wave of broken windows and threats of violence has proven it should never be relied on.

Labeling the brick throwers as illegitimate doesn't unbreak any windows nor will it keep any future windows from being broken. The opposition that is inspiring the brick throwers have a beef that has been ignored by the powers that be and violence is the result. Continuing to ignore the complaints of the minority is not going to dissipate the underlying motivation.

There are some Republicans who have denounced violence and even so there are those who complained that they haven't been quick enough in their denunciation. To me that sounds like the Democrats expect the Republicans to dance to their orders.

Senator John McCain has said that violence is unacceptable and recommended that people engage in voter registration. He (and plenty of other folks) apparently do not understand that the people who throw bricks believe that the system is playing with a stacked deck.

Lastly, exactly why is student loan legislation part of a bill to enact health care legislation?