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COMMENTARY: What Kind Of People Are We?

Columnist Dan Bell takes a look at some disturbing reactions to political rhetoric.

What kind of people are we? What have we become? Have we changed? Or have we let fear and anger reveal our true character?

Case #1-- People cheer for state sponsored execution. Recently in a Republican Presidential debate, Texas Governor Rick Perry was asked about the use of the death penalty in his state – to reflect on the fact that over two-hundred people have been sent to death, way more than any other state, while he never once granted a pardon or clemency. Before the governor could respond, a cheer rose up from the crowd in attendance – for people being put to death.

Whether you agree or disagree with the death penalty, is putting people to death as punishment something we should be cheering about?

Case #2 – People show contempt and boo a gay soldier in Iraq. In another Republican Presidential debate, a soldier from the war in Iraq asked a question about whether the candidates would limit/reinstate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – an issue for him because the soldier can now freely identify himself as gay and serve his country and defend our freedom.  Again, before an answer can be uttered, the crowd in attendance booed this soldier.

Whether you are O.K. or not with gay men and women serving in our armed forces, should we really show contempt for them while they are on the field of combat? Anywhere?

Case #3 – Beer is poured over Robin Vos. This one is closer to home. A man, obviously not a fan of Mr. Vos’ politics, assaulted him by pouring beer on him. A short time later the man turned himself in accompanied by supporters.

Case #3a – Congresswomen Gabriel Giffords and several other people are shot at a meet-and-greet. Nineteen (19) people are shot, six of them fatally, including a young girl.

Is it such a stretch from heated rhetoric, to showing open contempt, and then finally adding physicality to our expression of differences? Where our elected officials are assaulted, sometimes with deadly result?

In cases one and two, I am saddened at the lack of refinement in character, the ignorance, the depth of descent into an abyss of hatred. In these cases at least no one was physically assaulted or injured, but it does beg the question, just what kind of people are we and what have we become?

In cases 3 &3a, the behavior by the perpetrators can be described as heinous, reprehensible, despicable, dastardly, etc.etc.. How did we get to a point where it is felt that it is open season on each other?

There is nothing wrong with having an opinion and engaging in passionate debate. Yet somehow we seem to have gotten to the point where there is a complete lack of respect for any opinion other than or own - that there seems to be this need to demonize anyone who disagrees with us.

But the worst indicator regarding this behavior was in those debates, in front of the cameras, those men and women on stage who desire to be referred to as “President” –  what did they do when the crowd showed their contemptible behavior? Nothing. They were O.K. with it. The question for is, should we be?

W. David Heller September 27, 2011 at 02:19 AM
If you want to paint with a large brush, and collective condemn all conservative Presidential candidates, that's fine. Start holding, then, our President to the same standard when one of the many rogue Progressives throws the stink bomb from that side of the aisle.
patchreader 123 September 27, 2011 at 04:12 AM
Dan: Are you insinuating that Case #3a was politically motivated and that the shooter was a member or supporter of an opposing political party?

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