I truly hope not!
A dear friend (and regular reader of this humble blog) recently attended a talk presented by the President of the Arizona Republic (newspaper).
The president outlined her personal history, then presented what was countenanced as ‘the toxic culture that is America today’.
Summarized by my friend, as follows:
She was part of the historic decision of the paper to endorse Hillary Clinton for President, the first Democrat ever endorsed for President in the paper’s 126 year history. She was only part of that decision. The board, heavily conservative, many of them Goldwater Republicans, considered their decision very carefully. They discussed the options, giving no endorsement at all, endorsing a third-party candidate, or Clinton (which they eventually did).For them, it was never a partisan choice, they had endorsed John Kasich in the primaries. For them, it was on their consideration of fitness for office. They knew it was weighty decision. They knew it would cost them business. They knew that it would be an unpopular choice for many in a Republican dominated state. But an endorsement of Trump was never in the cards for them. Something I didn’t know, but was interesting to learn.What they were unprepared for, was the volcano of ugliness that followed. Death threats came in by the hundreds. Targeted personally toward individuals on the board. Things like: We know where you live. We know where your children go to school. We know the license plate on your car. We know where you park. We are going to do to you what was done to Don Bolles. You will die. We will kill your family. Hundreds of these. Every day.Threats came by phone, by mail, in person, via email (of course). People attempting to sell subscriptions were spat upon, had guns brandished in their faces. It got so bad that the Republic ceased trying to make in-person subscription sales.One extreme right-wing Catholic group spammed her email 5000 times a day.
I was horrified. This is America? This is what we do to people who disagree with us politically? I’ve had my share of political arguments. I’ve vented anger, but I never imagined anything like this.Thankfully, nobody was actually killed, although there were several assaults.All over an ENDORSEMENT. A simple statement of opinion.It is ongoing. She said that she now “only” gets 2-3 death threats a day. Although, every time Trump calls the press “enemies of the people” or complains about the press, there is another spike.One man calls every day, just to say, “I hate you and think you should die.”This is what we’ve come to.Well, I’m not going to be a part of it any more. I will state my opinions, exercise my freedom of speech, but I will never again engage in behavior that dehumanizes or could be perceived as threatening to people who disagree with me.Civil discourse begins with me. I hope it doesn’t end there.