Dumb and Despicable
When I was a kid, my mother warned me not to do something stupid just because my friends were doing it by asking “If Johnny jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” The correct answer was, of course, no.
In other words, when someone does something dumb or despicable, your next actions determine just how dumb or despicable you are as well.
Recently in Charlottesville, Virginia someone did something really, really dumb and despicable. A man, who was there to take part in a protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, drove his vehicle into a group of counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring dozens of others.
Those are facts and, I do not believe, they are in dispute.
Further, photos have shown additional confrontations between the protesters and counter-protesters, and it appears that violence may have been perpetrated by people on both sides against each other. However, it is also fair to say that no one knows for certain who initiated any of the confrontations or violence and that it should be left to the professionals (police, FBI etc) to sort that part out.
In the wake of this, however, the President of the United States, along with many politicians of various political persuasions, weighed in with their opinions on these tragic events. And so the bridge jumping began.
Now, if you look back at American history, you can find examples of people of every political, religious or ethnic group committing acts of violence upon others. Human beings hurt and kill each other. Call it our animal nature if you must, but, it’s what we, unfortunately, do, and have done for centuries.
But when one person, affiliated with a particular group, acts to harm people affiliated with another group, and that person is motivated by hatred for that group, is it really so hard to condemn that person without also blaming the injured party?
Do you really have to say “yeah, I know Johnny did a dumb and despicable thing, but some of the people he hurt did dumb and despicable things too?”
Can’t we just say “don’t do dumb and despicable things” and leave it at that?
And do we have to point at other, completely unrelated dumb and despicable things as a means of deflecting attention from the dumb and despicable things we were already talking about?
Look, I identify with the progressive and liberal-leaning wing of the political spectrum. But I can objectively judge the guy who took shots at the Republican members of Congress as they played baseball and say, yes, he did a dumb and despicable thing. I don’t have to couch my condemnation by saying, you know, that maybe some of those members of the GOP have done some dumb and despicable stuff in their lives too.
Had protestors carrying Nazi and Confederate flags been run over by a counter-protester in their car, I could genuinely say, in spite of what their flags symbolize, that the person who hurt them was wrong to do so.
So, permit or no permit, guns or no guns, flags or no flags, if you hurt or kill someone because you don’t like what that person is saying, you are a dumb and despicable person who did a dumb and despicable thing. Period. End of sentence.
Now step back from the edge. You don’t need to jump off the bridge too.