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Texas Republican Congressman Ron Wright Dies from COVID-19 — I Made It a Social Experiment

Celebrating the death of political opponents is uncalled for and abhorrent

Today, several news agencies are reporting the death of US Representative Ron Wright of Texas. Wright was 67 and was diagnosed with COVID-19 two weeks ago. In the recent past, Wright battled other heath issues including receiving treatment for lung cancer. His wife is also hospitalized with the coronavirus.

Wright, a Republican, represented Texas’ 6th Congressional District. He was a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee. He was serving his second term in the House.

Upon hearing the news, I posted the following on Facebook, in my account I use for secular activism, outreach, and interacting with fans/followers of SecularVoices. Most of the people I’m “friends” with on this account I’ve never actually met in person. The vast majority are atheists, humanists, democrats, progressives, or all of the above. These are also people who espouse empathy and support of their fellow humans — not just humans who share their political ideals.

I purposely did not inject my own politics or feelings into this post, just to see what would happen. Would the people I’m connected with on this account show the empathy they claim to have, or would they be on the attack and “rub it in” or celebrate the death of a political opponent. My guess was that many would abandon the ideals they claim to have and revel in this development, even though I’m sure most have never even heard of this Congressman, as he’s not one of the more outspoken members of the governing body.

Within seconds of my post, the first reaction I got was a heart, signifying that someone loved the post, essentially loving the news of his death. Of the first 4 reactions the post received, 3 were hearts, and one was a “like” or thumbs-up.

Moments later, I had a couple comments on the post. One was of utter apathy, while the next was a cartoon seemingly poking fun at the death of a Congressman. Another person shared my post, inserting a “WooHoo!”

As of the time wof this writing, none of the over 4,500 people connected with this Facebook account have spoken up to admonish those who are celebrating the passing of Rep. Wright. All of the individuals celebrating his death have been removed from my friends list.

Taking pleasure in the death of an American Congressman is abhorrent, regardless of what political party he/she belongs to. Rep. Wright’s death should be mourned alongside all of the other COVID deaths we’ve had to endure during this pandemic. When the CDC announces updated death tolls, do we ask for a breakdown by party registration and only care about those who align with our politics? Absolutely not. They’re all Americans.

We can argue our points against politcal rivals all we want, but celebrating their deaths is one step closer to calling for their deaths. Are atheists, humanists, democrats, and progressives as deplorable as those who stormed the Capitol calling for the death of Pence, Pelosi, and others? I’d like to hope that’s not the case. But in order to make sure we’re not compared to them, we need to tone down the rhetoric a bit, practice what we preach, and act like grown-ups. The death of a Congressman, regardless of party, is something to be mourned and treated respectfully, not celebrated.

SecularVoices readers: I hope you enjoyed this piece and continue to enjoy the SecularVoices column! I purposely keep all of my articles outside the Medium paywall so that my content can always be free to you. To support my work (and keep the coffee flowing), please consider springing for a cup o’ joe through the button below. You can even sign up for a membership if you’d like, and earn a signed copy of my book!

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SecularVoices is led by Kevin Davis, author of Understanding an Atheist. It focuses on issues affecting the atheist/secular community in the US, as well as the absurdities of religion.

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Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis

Writes at ExCommunications & SecularVoices, formerly of Patheos. Author of Understanding an Atheist. Co-founder of Young Skeptics. @KevTweetsThings

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