Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Essay: The ugly truth about hate speech

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The ugly truth about hate speech

From the book: Chum for Thought: Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters by David Satterlee

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Chum For Thought:
Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters

The ugly truth about hate speech

It has been a week for contemplating Matthew 12:34, where Jesus pointed out that, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” We continue to be witness to speech and actions of intense hate, cruelty, and outright evil.

I like to think that I am optimistic and frequently take note of good things and of how many things are getting better. But, at this moment my heart is heavy and my head is bowed.

This week, I watched a recording of Representative John Sullivan from Oklahoma at a town hall meeting. He implicitly threatened Democratic Senators: “You know, but other than me going over there with a gun and holding it to their heads and maybe killing a couple of them, I don’t think they’re going to listen unless they get beat.” [He later apologized.]

Memories from just over a year ago came flooding back. Democratic U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head at point blank range by an anti-government activist. Eighteen other people were also shot and six of them died.

I was reminded of how that year was thick with the coded language of “Second Amendment remedies.” Sarah Palin’s PAC had published a political action “target map” showing Giffords’ district in the crosshairs of a gun. Even the Pima Arizona County Sheriff expressed concerns that the pervasive rhetoric of anger, hatred, prejudice, and bigotry that he felt had contributed to Giffords’ shooting.

A brief Internet search shows that there are at least six different versions of “Liberal Hunting Permit” circulating – usually with no bag limit.

Don’t even try to tell me that this is harmless rhetoric.
This is Real.
This is Immediate.
This is Persistent.
This is Personal.
This is Evil.

I lived in southern Texas when James Byrd, Jr. was lynched not so very long ago. He was tied with chains to the back of a pickup truck and dragged to death near Jasper, Texas.

Fear and hate in our hearts and hands are not yet gone from our nation. 

Let us take a stand for the fruitages of the spirit. May our hearts be open to abundant love, joy, peace…