Civility and the Political Bully

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When The Pink Flamingo was in the Seventh Grade, I ran afoul of a nasty math teacher.  There was a word problem that had to do with Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and home run productivity over the year in 1961.  I used the designate HR on the problem.  The idiot teacher gave me an F on the test because I used HR for Home R.  According to her, the only time it should be used was for Home Room.  I sassed her and was sent to the principle.  It was the second week of school.

I found a champion in Al Robinson.  He agreed with me, and showed her chapter and verse in newspaper form.  It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that has stood the test of time.  Al Robinson is a Yankees fan.  I don’t  understand. He’s a bright, educated person, a good Republican.

Over the years, the war of words has never ceased.  I will periodically get a card, “Yankees Rule, Cincy Drools,” or something to that effect.  I’ll get a call, “You know you are an idiot for not supporting the Yanks.”

I’ll send him a raspberry when the Yankees go down to defeat.

It is all in good clean fun.

But – when the same thing happens from a stranger, someone you have never met before in your life, it gets a little wacky.  It can also be a little nasty.  I have a very good friend who is supporting Romney.  I would never think of pushing this person or being ugly.  I care about this person. My brother, on the other hand, I will harass, intimidate, and bully to the point of no return.  He’s my brother.  He does the same for me.

There is nothing wrong with a good political battle. I love it. I live for this time of year.  It’s just plain fun.  As a political animal, I have a tendency to forget that the average person is not as involved as I am.  A year or so ago my mother informed me that I needed to shut up about politics in social situations.  I’ve tried to comply with her command.  She’s right.

Being obsessed by politics in general is just plain fun.  To me it is like a contact sport.  The bloodier the better. But – there is a line a person does not cross. It is one thing to generically “insult” a political group by calling them idiots or brain dead.  It is another to make it personal and nasty.  When this happens, you know the person who is doing the attacking is not all that into politics, but something else.

We’ve seen this sort of attack for years from Ron Paul’s most devoted Bots.  For several months now, we’ve been documenting the same behavior from Romney’s supporters.  There are reports that some have truly crossed the line from political amusement to harassment and threats.

This is what I’ve been experiencing the past week or so.  It’s not bad, but it is an example of what Romney Bots are doing to me and to others.

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No, it’s not bad.  I find it rather humorous.  But – this does say a lot about the lack of civil discourse in this country now that anyone who has access to the internet can say anything – to someone they don’t know.

We can disagree on politics and still be civil.

It makes me wonder if something else is going on here.

 

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