Friday, December 4, 2015

Stamp Out Hate

Another day, another shooting.  One day it’s an attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic.  Another day it’s a massacre at a holiday party.  Previously, a college campus.  And a church.  And a school.  And we react the same way, over and over, and of course, nothing changes.  

The uptick in violent mass assaults such as these is not your imagination.  Here are just a couple of items I pulled off others’ internet postings:
Mass shootings under each President's term.
·       Reagan 1981-1989 (11 mass shootings).
·       Bush Sr 1989-1993 (12 mass shootings).
·       Clinton 1993-2001 (23 mass shootings).
·       Bush Jr 2001-2009 (16 mass shootings).
·       Obama 2009-2016 (162 mass shootings).
According to the FBI, a “mass shooting” is defined as 4 or more people killed.
Source (FBI Crime Statistics)
The San Bernardino shooting is America’s 1,044th mass shooting in 1,066 days.

Yeah, violence is on the rise here.  The whole world knows it.  The BBC opened its coverage of the ongoing San Bernardino mass shooting Wednesday evening by acknowledging a fairly alarming reality: “Just another day in the United States of America, another day of gunfire, panic, and fear.”

You can’t even enforce your café’s no-smoking policy without getting shot.

Let’s set aside the talk of guns and religion and political parties for just a minute and discuss the real reason things have taken a turn for the worse:


The amount of hatred in all forms is unmistakably higher than, well, than I can remember.  Hate speech.  Nasty digs.  Road rage.  Angry lies. Race-bating.  Religion-bashing.  Party-blaming.  Stereotyping “all liberals” or “all Muslims” or “all Republicans.” More lies.  Outright bullshit.

Remember civil discourse?  It seems like a distant memory.  In the last couple of days I have tried to “keep it civil” with arguing parties both on social media and in person.  I do just fine until they pull out what I refer to as “crap talk” – name calling, demonizing, blame-throwing bile that stops me in my tracks.  Before my blood pressure began to be an issue, I’d fire back.  Now, I just walk away.  I have to.

We all should.

I was reminded of an old parody song from the Broadway musical “The Mad Show.”  Entitled “Stamp Out Hate,” it was sung by a group of people so dead set on achieving peace and tolerance that they would go through extremes to do it.  Some of the lyrics:

What, me hate?
We're gonna stamp out hate! That's our creed!
Wipe out violence, intolerance and greed!
We're gonna start right now, tomorrow is too late!
We're gonna stamp! Out! Hate!

We're gonna stamp out hate, stamp it in the ground
And then take happiness and spread it all around
We'll put an end to grief, we can hardly wait
We're gonna stamp! Out! Hate!

We're gonna stamp out hate, sock it in the eye
Shoot it in the stomach, yelling Die! Die! Die!
We'll pull its insides out, and look at what it ate
We're gonna stamp! Out! Hate!

Of course, it was all in good fun…until the end.

(A door opens – footsteps – a well-dressed man approaches the audience)

Ladies and gentlemen, in these troubled times I think there's a lesson to be learned from these dedicated young people... ("okay, get the door.") ...coming together to, uh…wait! ("hold him still.")

(The singers garrote the speaker, drop him to the ground, and then walk away, whistling the final bar of the song.)

We should all be aware that yes, bad feelings can turn into bad words.  And bad words can turn into bad actions.  Hate crimes are fueled by hate speech.  Can there even be any doubt?

Several of my friends have also noted the rise in hate, and hate speech, and have spoken out about it.  Some, like me, merely decry our depraved condition.  Others have called for action – rather than speak, do good.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen, help the homeless vets, whatever moves you.

This worldwide holiday season we’re in features 29 different holidays (for several different religions and a few secular holidays, too).  Holidays are times for sharing, days off of work, but the word holiday can also mean “a period of exemption or relief” (like “tax holiday”). 

I would suggest that we all take a “Hate Holiday” and stifle the desire to lash out with hateful rhetoric.  Think before you speak or post.  Spreading hate is like spreading fertilizer to grow even more hateful action.  Stop that shit now.

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