It’s no secret that I attempt (with a fairly good rate of success) to name these blog posts using song titles, or some form of recognizable bit of pop culture. In this instance, I’ve opted for “People Are Strange”, because I couldn’t find any song entitled “People Suck”*.
It’s been well documented…primarily by me…that I can be a little misanthropic some times. Like when I’m awake, for example. People that truly know me recognize that that can be a bit of an act…I mean, can anyone really be as cranky and miserable as I seem to be? I don’t think I’m helping my case much here.
If you did know the real me, you’d know that I’m actually quite helpful and generous…if not with my money and worldly goods, but with my time and my advice (case in point: I am certain that I helped Renee Jones get elected to the Promotional Products Association International’s board of directors by telling her to not follow any of my advice). I have a tendency to accept people, warts and all…perhaps to the point of self-damage. I have turned the other cheek so many times that my head swivels like one of the bobbleheads I used to manufacture.
It takes a lot to push me too far, but a recent episode made me stop and reassess a relationship, and people in general. As I write this, we are just days removed from the arrest of the accused terrorist who sent bombs to several prominent figures and media outlets. When it was occurring, I posted on social media that, like everyone else, I didn’t understand what was going on.
Almost immediately, responses started to come in…a lot of “me too” comments and the like. But one of the first comments shook me to the core. It saddened and sickened me, as well.
One of the respondents wrote that these bombs…had they gone off and done their intended damage…was simply “thinning the herd”. I’ll spare you most of his subsequent comments but he felt that because one of the intended targets had personally disappointed him…whether accurately or not, he deserved to die.
He deserved to be blown up.
And I allowed his comment…not only because I am a staunch supporter of the First Amendment, but also because I realized that the rest of my audience would probably take this guy to school. And they did.
And he didn’t stop. Perhaps, to his credit, or perhaps to my further dismay and disgust, he was able to continue to support his stance. Maybe some of his veneer did start to crack, as the more he responded to the personal attacks at him, the number of his typos increased.
Maybe I’m a bit of a bully here: I could have shut this thread down. I could have simply deleted his comment but, again, I allow for and (usually) encourage dissenting opinions. But, truth be known, I was enjoying the piling on.
This is just one of the problems with being a supporter of free speech. You basically allow for people to say the most awful things, and you support them for being able to do so even if you find their comments (dare I say) deplorable. I used to use that logic when describing Howard Stern. I couldn’t stand his program, but I defended his right to say what he wanted (at the same time as supporting my own right to change the station). But his juvenile comments don’t compare with shouting “fire” in a movie theater…where does one draw the line at being tolerant of all forms of free speech?
The Facebook ranting continued for a while longer. It was almost as though I didn’t even have to fight my own battle, but I got in my shots too. When the name calling took over…and nasty name calling, at that…I’d decided we’d all had enough.
And I shut down the thread. And I deleted my connection to the (very) offending party.
It’s that last sentence that may bother me the most. Had I allowed this creep to get under my skin? I pride myself on having friends…business and personal…from both sides of the aisle. With some, we can share a healthy discussion and even an argument, agree to disagree, and then move on to more important topics like baseball. It takes a lot to get me to push that “unfriend” button…so this person can take pride in the fact that he had gone where few had gone before.
He’d know about it if we were still connected.
People suck. No…not you.
*Okay…had I made a little more effort, I would have sooner found this brilliant number by Confetti, with the catchy title of, yes…”People Suck“. I admit: I’d never heard it before. Now that I have, I believe I’ve found my new theme song.