I’ve heard, in the public discourse and on all sides of the political spectrum, that we are far too politically correct in this country. We tiptoe around issues and are afraid of hard words. Or so the critique goes. And, to a certain extent, I would agree. We need to be able to speak freely, we can’t allow ourselves to become too easily offended lest we shut down the conversation.
And I’d agree it’s okay to laugh and poke fun. Without a little comedy, we might not make it through this election alive here in the good old USA.
But where is the line? While it’s okay and admirable to speak your mind, it’s not okay to use words as weapons. While it’s okay to criticize, it is definitely not okay to demean something or someone simply because you don’t agree.
And yet. I see this, day after day in the campaign of Mr. Trump. Day after day, he calls people out for all the ways they have failed him. He calls his opposition ‘crooked’ and ‘liar’ and ‘small’. He says he’d like to ‘bash in heads’. He has called certain women ‘pigs’ and branded an entire group of people as ‘terrorists’. His supporters cheer this as plain speaking. We have free speech! It’s our right to speak out!
Yesterday, a ten year old boy at a rally yelled out “Take the bitch out” when Mr. Trump began his usual tirade against Mrs. Clinton. The boy’s mother defended his behavior. “He has a right to his opinion,” she said, smiling. Excuse me? When did it become okay for a kid to word spit on a candidate for president? To word spit on anyone? Why does anyone feel it’s okay for anyone, regardless of age, to do this?
Yes, you do have free speech. And with freedom comes responsibility. It is not your right to be hurtful. It is not your right to be vindictive. And it is certainly not your right to incite hate and derision. Such things reflect badly on you and on our country.
I’d like to think class isn’t dead. That we can have civil discourse without becoming uncivil. I’d like to think we can move past cynicism and disparaging remarks. Can we do this? Can we show the world, and ourselves, that we have just a little bit of class left?