“You know, Miz Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, or drive a car.
Hell, you need a license to catch a fish.
But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.”
– Keanu Reeves as Tod Higgins, in Parenthood
Ouch. The movie’s from 1989, but Keanu/Tod could have been talking about today’s self-appointed political commentators.
You need a license to buy a dog, or drive a car. But they’ll let any ignoramus spew political invective on Facebook and Twitter.
Just this week we’ve seen social media storms:
- About President Obama not being in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina. Umm, no, but he was in New Orleans as a then-Senator from Illinois.
- About Michelle Obama going shopping just days after Katrina hit. Umm, no, that picture shows Condoleezza Rice.
But lest anyone think it’s only Trump supporters who can be hopelessly ignorant, we’ve also seen a storm of snarky comments about Melania Trump’s choice of footwear. I mean, who would wear stiletto heels to tour flood-ravaged Houston?
Umm, no one. Not even Melania, who changed on Air Force One, emerging in clothes and footwear perfectly suited to the activity and remarkably similar to what Michelle Obama wore when touring hurricane-ravaged Haiti.
So: snarky and ill-informed, or hoping you are. And that’s without getting into the true nastiness that I saw on my own social media feeds this week:
- People nicknaming the Trumps “Hurricane Barbie and Ku Klux Ken”
- People exhorting the President to “fall from the truck and die, Twitler”
As both sides seem to delight in saying these days, “Haters gotta hate.”
Umm, no. What haters gotta do is stop hating.
Until that glorious day, I’d like to tell the initiators and circulators of mean-spirited, stupid tweets and Facebook posts to just shut up. Because they don’t have a license to make the world a worse place. A less forgiving and tolerant place.
But I believe in free speech, so I have to exercise free ignoring.
And that means more than averting my eyes and trying to skirt that nastiness when I see it. It means unfollowing anyone who spreads it. Because we need less of this shit and more civility.
It’s not enough, but for now it’s what I can do. But I’m as offended as Keanu/Tod at the state of the world: These guys spew with impunity, but you need a license to catch a fish.