Now we come to my final part of this series. Bear with me here. I’m going to be making the same point multiple times but in different ways. I’m covering a concept that was hard for me to grasp, so I figure I should hedge my bets and present it in a bunch of different ways, just in case the one way I present it is hard for you to grasp too.
Roseanne Barr’s comments and the responses to them helped clarify for me some big problems with the current arguments by Conservatives when someone like Barr does something like this. They boil down to:
- Tolerate the bully, or you are a hypocrite.
- The bully is the victim here.
F*ck that noise.
STRUGGLING WITH DRAWING THE LINE AGAINST INTOLERANCE
In the wake of a great many things, including Charlottesville, and being reminded of rising anti-Semitism on Holocaust Remembrance Day, I have struggled with where I should draw the lines on free speech and tolerance.
I firmly believe in free speech, including that we have to be willing to grant it when it is most hard to do. I also believe firmly that our society and, therefore, ourselves benefit more from being tolerant of others than by being intolerant.
But when I am called upon to tolerate someone else’s intolerance, what then? How do I avoid being a hypocrite? How do I make sure I am not just supporting free expression to those ideas I like and denying it to those I don’t? To go back to my question from Part 1, where do I draw the line?
As I struggle, I have encountered many frustrated souls saying, “Enough. Don’t tolerate intolerance.”
But I could not wrap my head around it. If I don’t tolerate others who speak ideals I oppose, am I not being intolerant?
Even with the above cartoon (one of several posts I saw on the subject), I could not grasp the concept.
See I missed something in there.
No one was saying be intolerant of those with different ideas.
They were saying shut down those who would shut down tolerance. Because then nobody gets to talk.
If you want to preserve free speech, you have to shut down those who would deny it to others.
If you want to protect tolerance, you have to shut down intolerance.
You have to be willing to shut down the bully.
HARD CODING THE TOLERANT INTO LETTING THE BULLY GO
Someone’s free speech may allow him to suggest that murdering those of an opposing political party in their beds and setting their homes on fire should be considered okay. But I’m not being intolerant by opposing him. He is the intolerant one. I am supporting tolerance by suggesting those of opposing views should be allowed to continue to live and that murder is wrong.
Example too extreme? Maybe. Although there are limits on free speech, and that kind of free speech treads awfully close.
But you know what else is extreme? Trying to suggest that fellow human beings should not be treated as human.
That’s you, Joe Arapaio. And Donald J. Trump. And Roseanne Barr. And all the others like you.
To those folks I say that I am finally learning. I am not protecting tolerance by being tolerant of your free speech. I can’t prevent you from saying something. But I sure as heck am going try to limit your forum as legally as possible. And I am not leaving your garbage unanswered.
Because let’s face it. All those times you’ve railed against supposed Liberal media double-standards and how dare I not allow free speech just because that Conservative dude is saying something I might disagree with? Well, that wasn’t about protecting liberty or free speech, was it?
It was because you’re a bully. And like all bully’s, underneath you’re scared you’ll get called on your bullsh!t and have to face the consequences. So, you are trying to protect yourself in advance. To get me believing that to do or say anything against someone who talks like you is to violate my own principles. To make sure when the time comes I’ll be so conditioned that I will let your bully a$$ say whatever it wants.
Guess what? I’m not falling for it any more.
My job is to stand up for the bullied, not the bully. So, you’re on your own. You made your bed, pal. Now you lay in it.
Because that’s what bullying and intolerance gets you. In the end no one is standing in your corner because your intolerance pushed them all away. When you argue every man for himself all the time, sooner or later you’ll be standing to face it yourself, alone. Because everyone else who believes like you is too worried about their own a$$e$ to give a sh!t about yours. And everyone who doesn’t is too busy helping those you tried to walk all over.
INTRODUCING MEMES THAT HELPED ME GRASP THINGS AT LAST
After the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students organized a nationwide school walkout in remembrance of those killed and in awareness of gun violence in general. It also meant to encourage dialogue on how to make our children safer from gun violence.
That’s when I began seeing the memes that suggested that the students should “walk up not out.” They should instead love a bullied kid, and then maybe they wouldn’t get shot.
Except the kids being described weren’t necessarily the bullied ones. Instead it was kids like, “the weird kid”, “the kid who sits alone,” “the kid who never has a voluntary partner,” and the one that gets me every time, “the kid who causes disturbances in class.”
It’s possible some of those kids are bullied. But guess what? Maybe those kids are avoided by other kids for very good reasons. Kids can be cruel, but they also are capable of figuring out other kids are dangerous, and they should just not be around them, for their own mental or physical health.
Additionally, the first memes I saw were kind of mild about it, making it sound like a peace and love and hugs kind of thing. However, as the walk out day approached, and students weren’t having any of it, the memes got more vicious toward the students walking out.
Even the one above, which is one of the milder ones still implies that every student walking out is not already doing any of the nice things the meme suggests. Then it suggests the students, “Build on that foundation instead of casting stones,” implying peacefully marching out to try to force a more open dialogue for solutions to gun violence automatically meant “casting stones.”
In the end, as the memes got more vicious, they boiled down to:
“You didn’t love Nikolas Cruz and kids like him enough so you got what you deserved in being shot, you nasty bullying kids. If only you had loved him more, he wouldn’t have gone off. Why didn’t you reach out?”
Well, because he wasn’t bullied, for one.
If Cruz was an “outsider” in his own school that was in part by choice and in part because no one is required to reach out to someone who may harm them, emotionally or physically.
As some pointed out to those spouting those memes, kids who are truly bullied are rarely the shooters.
You know what bullied kids learn? That life is frigging unfair, and that’s the way it is. Because bullied kids often try to get help to put an end to bullies’ behavior, and the bullies often find some way to turn it on the bullied kids. Often, at best, bullied kids get the “you both were involved, so you both get the same punishment” treatment. And I’m not trying to blame any adults with that. The whole, complex matter of bullying and resolving conflict has no easy solutions.
So bullied kids learn to endure. Or they don’t, sadly. But the violence they inflict is usually restricted to themselves. Because that’s what the bullying conditions them to do.
The bullied kid whose frustration over his treatment leads him to take his revenge on the whole school works as a movie or television plot. But it almost never plays out that way in real life.
Further, others pointed out they did reach out to the outsiders at their school. And in return got stalkers and people who could not take “no” for an answer and did not care for other people’s boundaries. The kids who reached out were met with obsessive and abusive behavior for their trouble. Turns out, some of those misunderstood kids weren’t really misunderstood. They were understood just fine and avoided for a reason.
Like that kid who refused to take “no” from a girl, so he shot her to death.
Don’t know which particular incident I’m referring to? Well that proves my point doesn’t it?
The gun violence by kids in schools is not about the truly bullied kids. It is about kids of all kinds. Some of which are avoided by other kids because they are not the kind of person people want to associate with. Not enough there to raise a psych red flag. But certainly enough for people to make the conscious, or unconscious, decision to protect themselves by staying away.
FINDING THE CODING IN THE MEME
The real point of the meme, as evidenced by its escalation over time, was to discourage kids from protesting for gun reform.
But I finally realized the other part of it was to code the students in general to tolerate the bullies. Because the memes implied failing to do so is what really causes these incidents.
The memes used peace, love, and hugs, because who doesn’t want that, right? That made it sound like the meme was being reasonable, and the students were being unreasonable.
Because the underlying message to the students was that, instead of speaking up for themselves, they should instead love those harmful, toxic folks. They should love their shooters more. The shooters are the original victims here, after all. If only the students had been more tolerant, reached out to them more, those intolerant kids would not have shot them.
Do you see where this is going?
Because it dawned me, as I began to turn those memes and their message around in my head what some of their proponents may have really been going for.
To seed an idea. To code the behavior of the students, and all the rest of us who saw it, without our knowing it. To condition us to make false equivalencies. And let the big thing go in the interest of being fair to the very people doing the wrong we should be stopping.
The main proponents of those memes weren’t the poor saps who spread it around like it was love and fuzzy kittens and unicorns. They were those same intolerant, Right-leaning folks who scream racist, bigoted, prejudiced laden filth and expect the rest of us to love them for it, or be deemed hypocrites worthy of being figuratively or otherwise shot down.
Just like those students were being conditioned to stay in and love their aggressors, not walk out, all of us are being conditioned to not speak out about intolerant hate-mongers. That instead, we should let them speak unmolested. Don’t protest them. Don’t counter-rally. Otherwise it’s violating their free speech. And wouldn’t that mean those protesting them are hypocrites to their own ideals? And being hypocrites, why should anyone listen to those protesting at all?
Imagine that last bit as if it was spoken in the best Kaa voice you imagine. All snake-like and full of temptation to just give in.
Well, I’m done with yielding that ground.
OBSERVING THE SEEDS OF CONDITIONING SPROUT
Then as the Roseanne Barr/Samantha Bee events unfold, I heard Conservatives defend Barr, and talk about how she and they are the victims, because Liberals never let them speak. As I watched Conservatives speak.
Worse yet, as they cried “Liberal hypocrisy,” the so-called Liberal media would nod along. “Yes, there is absolutely a double-standard by Liberals. You’re right. It would be totally hypocritical of us to defend our ideals of free speech and tolerance by objecting to racist, bigoted, fearmongering insults like Roseanne Barr’s. People like her should be allowed to speak up more.”
The so-called Liberal media fell right into the conditioning pattern I noticed the “walk up” memes encouraging.
Needless to say, much yelling at my screen followed.
And then I realized I needed get off my duff and try to explain what I was seeing. Hence this big, long blog series.
Let me make it clear. A racist has a legal right to speak in this country. My objecting to what the racist says is not only something I’m allowed to do. It is something I should do. And urging that person face serious consequences after their repeated fearmongering, hatemongering, bigotry, racism, and lies, is also something I should do. That person is not a victim for being called out on such things. They are the aggressor and the transgressor, not me. It is not my obligation to make sure that person has a forum.
And none of that makes me a hypocrite to the ideals of free speech or tolerance.
SOME BASICS ABOUT FREEDOM OF SPEECH
So, if I am going to talk about this stuff, I should take a timeout to talk about freedom of speech.
Here’s what the First Amendment says:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
But that right to free speech is not without limitations. That’s where the Supreme Court comes in. Because it interprets how the Constitution should be applied as law. And it figured out that, in practice, there had to be a few limitations on free speech.
We should all know we can’t yell “Fire” in a crowded theater. That falls under the endangerment or incitement limitations.
Similarly, we also can’t incite people to riot or break the law in a frenzy of unthinking, immediately acted upon rage.
Technically, if you made an oral murder-for-hire agreement with someone to kill your former boss for you, that would be illegal too. Even though the killer would not be taking immediate action based on those words.
Additionally, we can’t use our free speech to deliberately provoke the listener to react to us. You know. “Them’s fighting words.” If we use our words to provoke someone to react violently to us, our free speech does not necessarily protect us from the legal consequences. Think of that the next time you think of the alt-Right in Charlottesville standing around with shields, armor, and weapons trying to provoke counter-protesters into attacking them.
Bullies don’t always get a free pass under the First Amendment. What do you know?
Credit to my friend Gary Christiansen for reminding me of the second exception and that it was laid out in Chaplinksy v. New Hampshire.
So, even the First Amendment has limits. And, as so many of the intolerant folks have helpfully pointed out in the past week or two, it’s A-Okay for a business to limit free speech and freedom of expression, or censure employees for their exercise of same.
Which means it’s okay for the NFL to fine teams and players for failing to stand during the national anthem, even though the law does not require standing.
It also means it’s okay for ABC to cancel Roseanne Barr’s show after she falsely attacked people, spread unfounded conspiracy theories, and made bigoted and racist comments.
It’s okay for cities to designate where people may peaceably assemble in the interests of the greater public safety, even though that may limit a speaker’s forum.
It’s okay for people to counter-protest hate-speech.
And, as always, people can speak but that does not free them from the consequences of their speech.
CONDITIONING US TO LOVE THE ATTACKER AND HELP THE BULLY
And when people face the consequences of their bad actions, that doesn’t make them victims. That usually means they were the ones victimizing.
Brock Turner, who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind the dumpster in California, was not victimized by being forced to face the consequences of his actions. I have no duty to make sure he is heard. He is the aggressor. The first person I should be standing up for is his victim, the woman he assaulted. Not him.
Those “walk up” memes finally made clear to me the ongoing attempt to use false equivalencies and faulty, but feel-good sounding, logic to condition all of us. School kids. Liberals. Conservatives. To love our attacker. To accept our bully. To tolerate intolerance.
Well, as the Parkland kids say, enough. No more.
You think I’m kidding?
Then look at the response to Roseanne Barr’s comments. Shortly after her bigoted, racist Tweet about Valerie Jarrett and then cancelling of her show, up went the rallying cry of “Liberal hypocrites” for not letting Roseanne Barr speak her mind. Roseanne Barr made a similar argument back in December 2017 when people corrected her over falsehoods she was spreading. She picked up the rallying cry here too.
And on every news program, that’s what I heard. Liberals don’t let Conservatives talk. They unfairly punish them and try to shut them down. The cry redoubled once Samantha Bee made her comments and was not fired.
There are obvious errors in the train of thought. Not the least of which is that Roseanne still has the same forum she was using before, her Twitter account, and she is still using it. So hardly silenced. “But her show…” Yeah, I’ll get back to that.
Also lost in there was that Barr faced consequences for her own wrongdoing. Yet the conversation was allowed to shift to Barr’s victimhood, not her wrongdoing.
MAJOR FALSE EQUIVALENCY: NOT ALL SIDES STAND FOR TOLERANCE
Another error remains the false equivalency I did not talk about in Part 3 of this series. The false equivalency that both sides stand for the same thing when it comes to tolerance itself.
If Barr were just commenting positively on Trump’s economic policies. Or if she were sassing Nancy Pelosi over some speaking misstep. Then this would be a different situation. But that’s not what Roseanne Barr did.
She was spewing lies and conspiracy theories that, given the corrections she has received up to now, she darn well knows are false. She spreads them anyway, in a clear attempt to sow fear, and hate, and distrust. She wraps that up with big bows of bigotry and racism. She encourages intolerance.
If Liberals stand for tolerance, then how do they serve that goal by helping intolerance spread? In short, even if Liberals were to apply a double-standard in Roseanne Barr’s case, how is that hypocritical, in that giving Roseanne a continued forum only serves to undermine tolerance?
Because there is no equivalency to be found there. The two sides do not equally serve the same goals of liberty and freedom for all, when one side argues for intolerance of others. And it does not serve tolerance to aid those who would shut tolerance down.
The oft-touted Christian moral code may be to love one’s enemies. But that does not require one let them spew their hate. Just saying.
BULLIES ANSWER CRITICISM BY PLAYING THE VICTIM
What are bullies but those who try to make some segment of the population feel small and insignificant and the bullies feel superior to them. Is that not what racism and bigotry are about? Aren’t some of bullies chief tools fear and turning other kids against those they are bullying? Is that not similar to the hate and fear mongering that conspiracy theories about Muslim plots to take over the country are about?
And what happens when the bully gets called on his garbage? He becomes the biggest crybaby of them all. Making himself the victim. In the hopes the status quo he has been creating will remain and this will all blow over. If only he can just distract the person calling him out enough.
Isn’t that what Barr started to do? She was a victim. The Ambien made her do it. She was being thrown under the bus. Being silenced unfairly.
Isn’t that what Trump repeatedly does as well? He says something vile, and it becomes all about how he is the one being victimized for being called out for it. He’s busy as President, how dare we question him? Or he did not say that, he said this other thing, weren’t we paying attention? Why does the press pick on him so much? Don’t we know he’s the most picked on President ever?
Barr lost her show. But Trump was the victim because he did not get a personal apology for any criticisms said of him.
The aggressor. The one saying outrageous things. Or lying. Or insulting people. Or, as a I said before, the bully. That’s who we are to believe the victim is supposed to be.
ROSEANNE TRIED TO SHOW TRUMP BASE IS NOT RACIST, BUT SOMETHING WAS OFF
Nor were Trump and Barr the only ones portraying themselves as victims. What about those poor Trump supporters who only had one show giving them voice. Just ignore that Fox News network in the corner there. Or the Trump surrogates allowed to talk freely on places like CNN.
See Roseanne was supposed to be a chance for the Trump base to feel represented without condemnation. I think it was also supposed to show that they are just ordinary Joe’s, salt-of-the-earth type folks, and not a “basket of deplorables.” Well, fine. I’m sure that’s true for some. But while the show tried to prove that, it also ended up highlighting that maybe some of the “deplorable” label was earned.
I admit I did not watch the show. And, since I don’t believe all those who support Trump are bad, or deplorable, or anything like that, I’m fine with the show demonstrating that and with people feeling comforted by that. But the description of the episode about the Muslim neighbors bothered me in places.
The episode meant to showcase that the Trump base are not bigots. Among other plot lines, Roseanne’s television family gets new Muslim neighbors and immediately jumps to stereotypical, negative, Islamophobic conclusions. But by the end of the day, our leads have to ask their new neighbors for something, and of course they get it, and everyone gets along, so much so that when the Muslim neighbor faces prejudice in the grocery story, Roseanne defends her. By the power of Hollywood, a happily-ever-after ending. Yay.
In reality, that’s not a terrible way to tackle a subject so sensitive to Trump supporters. But some things in the description end up niggling in my brain. That the Muslims, who are victims of our leads’ unfair prejudice in this story, have to give something first to be trusted. Even though they did not do anything to be distrusted. The victims in this story are, once again, who? First and foremost, our lead family. Not the Muslim neighbors who have done not one thing wrong. It’s the people being tolerant, the people Roseanne’s family has judged unfairly who have to give up something, to prove that they are good neighbors. The Islamophobes don’t.
In this case it is something most consider precious and hard to give up. Wi-Fi security passwords. You know. Privacy in a digital age set on identify theft. Of course, the new neighbors can always change it right after Roseanne’s family is done. But still…
There’s a lesson in there amid all the feel-good of the episode, but I’m not sure it’s a nice one.
The Roseanne character mends her ways and defends her new neighbor because of her new understanding. Great. But that understanding only came because the Muslim neighbors had to make a great leap of faith, not the lead family. The lead family had to get over their prejudices enough to knock on the door. That’s all. The Muslims had to give up their Wi-Fi password and prove they were “one of us” by loving the right baseball team in order to find acceptance. Apparently, normal humanity wasn’t enough.
Further, the show apparently creates an “on both sides” false equivalency in that moment. Roseanne’s family admits they were afraid of the new neighbors, and the new neighbors admit vice-versa. Because deep down we are all alike. Maybe that is an imbedded lesson to gently help the Trump base audience ratchet down some of their fears. But in the process it equates unfounded fear based on blind prejudice and no facts, with the new neighbors’ very real and well-founded fear based on present realities and reactions. The episode even goes so far as to demonstrate the new neighbors have reasons for their fears, for, in the course of the show, they are victimized. The two fears are not equal.
What’s more, if the show was supposed to serve as an imbedded lesson to the Trump base about letting go of those fears, it can also be argued to create an expectation that the letting go should be conditioned on the victims of the bigotry giving up something first.
Like I said, there is a lesson hidden in there that I’m not sure I like.
Maybe it came off better in real life. That’s often the case. But still something in the dynamic of the episode designed to show “We’re not all bigots” or “We’re not really bigots” was still kind of bigoted. Kind of bullying. “I’ll accept you but not on your terms. Only by making you fit mine.”
And while the show itself tried to show that Trump supporters weren’t all intolerant racists and bigots, Roseanne Barr’s Tweets showed the opposite. It came across as a crack in the façade. Nice Hollywood script spackle, but now we can see through what lies underneath. It is ugly. It’s not just vulgar. It is absolutely, denying-the-humanity-of-other-humans, grotesque.
TRUMP SUPPORTERS’ REACTIONS TO THE ROSEANNE BARR FALLOUT
But, again, Roseanne Barr is not Roseanne of the show. That’s just her character. And Roseanne Barr is not every Trump supporter out there. It doesn’t prove the claims that Trump supporters tend to be racist bigots, right?
But then, in speaking in defense of Roseanne, Trump, and the show, some Trump supporters proved exactly that. Again, I’m sure it’s not all Trump supporters. But it’s not none, or close to none either.
A quote from a blog about the incident, and people pointing out the hypocrisy of crying about a double-standard for Samantha Bee, given the things Trump has said (see Part 1 of this series):
“Here is why Trump can say what he wants and get to keep his Job: because after 8 years of Obama and friends telling us we are racist people we don’t agree with them, America said enough is enough and voted for the guy over doing it! And all this Russia and Porn star is going to get him another 4 years”
That’s right. The poster admitted to what I said in Parts 1 and 3. That there is, in in fact a double standard, but it is on the part of Trump and his supporters. Trump can say whatever he wants and keep his job. And why is the poster frustrated? Because he feels he has been called a racist. He’s the victim.
Of course, if he did not want to be called a racist he could have tried another approach. Like, you know, not acting like a racist. That often works if one does not want to be called a racist.
Whether someone is a racist or not is not determined by whether that person agrees they are a racist or not. That has nothing to do with it. And what further support do I need that you are a racist but your refusal to call out racist or vulgar remarks by the President or Ms. Barr. The poster did not. Instead, he’s the victim. And Liberals should feel bad for calling him a racist.
QUOTES FROM INTERVIEWS WITH TRUMP SUPPORTERS
Then there’ s this interview, where someone voiced why he was so disappointed with Barr losing her show:
“I was really disappointed in it because so many people out here speaking their opinions against the President, [where] it’s okay, such as The View, CNN, especially. They can say whatever they want and get away with it. But Roseanne Barr makes a Tweet, talking about someone who’s acting really trashy, and just described what two people, if they had a kid… Or two beings really. Apes are obviously not people…had a kid, it would look like that person. And they want to cancel her show. It’s not right. We can’t say anything we want to without being called racist or misogynist or anything else. But they can say whatever they want.”
Note how the man falls for the false equivalency argument hard. He is complaining about how “they” can say whatever “they want” but “we” can’t without being called racist. But sadly for him he proves the point about racist Trump supporters.
First, he is completely wrong on the facts. Valerie Jarrett did absolutely nothing to spark of Barr’s comment. She certainly did not act “trashy”. But worse is that awkward moment when he is trying to describe Barr’s comment as being no big thing, and he hesitates because he suddenly has an inkling of what he really is defending. “Apes are obviously not people.” No sh!t. Dude, you tried to argue it was just a comment about how some one looks, and, instead, you just admitted it was not about how a person looked at all, but about projecting on her a non-human parentage.
And yet, even then, the interviewee can’t bring himself to call it racist or even wrong. And he wonders why people might call him racist? Instead though, it’s all about how he is a victim, who can’t say what he wants. While he is actually saying what he wants on camera.
Someone else said they did not think Barr said the right thing, but “she apologized.” The lady then continued:
“And I think that many, many people have said horrible things, much worse, to our President and Vice President, and, um, they haven’t lost their television show. They haven’t lost their movie. They haven’t been ostracized. I think we have to learn civility. And…On both sides. I think that Roseanne could have used some civility. And I think there’s other people that could use civility.”
I am sure others could use more civility. But going over-the-top does get met with consequences on at least the Liberal side. Samantha Bee was certainly called out on that. So was Kathy Griffin. So once again, false equivalencies. With the added touch of false concern for opposing points of view. The basic message remains. Barr apologized. Others haven’t suffered as she has. Again, making a victim of the victimizer.
And here’s another interviewee:
“I am really disappointed in ABC. But truthfully, if this had been something that she was saying against the Trump administration, um, then I think her show would have continued. But because it was against President…ex-President Obama’s administration, I think they are doing this…She has taken a stance that she favors middle-Americans supporting Trump. And it’s a total turnaround from what she used to do. She’s grown up, and she recognizes that he’s doing a lot of good things. And so she is getting a lot of bad press from probably the Hollywood set that doesn’t like Trump.”
Again, it’s about Barr being a victim. Of a Hollywood conspiracy no less. Even though she is the one who said a woman was not even human, in a clear echo of past racist justification for mistreatment of African-Americans.
That’s the patter. That’s the argument. The bully is the victim. And if you don’t tolerate the bully, give him a pass, and let him go, you’re the bad person, not the bully.
I REPEAT: BULLIES ARE NOT THE VICTIMS
Barr spewed an unfounded, conspiracy-based, fear-mongering, and racist insult against an African-American. After making an anti-Semitic attack against George Soros and false accusations against Chelsea Clinton. All to stir up fear and hate. She tried to do the same to a Parkland school student. And before that, to Hillary Clinton and John Podesta regarding “Pizzagate.” And to Obama regarding some alleged Muslim conspiracy to take down this country. And on and on.
How is she the victim? How is she not the aggressor? And why, on earth, should anyone tolerate the lies she spouts?
She did not choose to support Trump by talking about his foreign policy, or trade policy, or immigration policy. No, she chose to show her support by spreading lies, fear, and hate. This is not about shutting up “the other side.” This is about saying no to bullies and intolerance.
I FEEL ANOTHER RANT COMING ON
And the fact that Trump supporters can’t seem to get that, would rather play the victim card themselves, is why they keep getting called racists and bigots.
And before anyone brings up what I said about the Roseanne episode on the Muslim neighbors about baseless fears, let me clarify. Throughout the course of the Trump campaign, I saw plenty of straight up racist, bigoted and otherwise prejudiced behavior from Average Joe Trump supporters. Assessments that, at least, some Trump supporters are not just racist, but very racist, are founded on fact not baseless fear.
So hey, Trump supporters– You don’t want to be called a racist, don’t be one. And don’t support people who are. That’s not on the rest of us. That’s on you. You aren’t the victims. And you sure as heck aren’t stepping up for them. You aren’t stepping up for tolerance, except for tolerance of your own intolerance.
I’m not falling for that one any more.
Look, as I said after Charlottesville, prove me wrong. I would love for you to prove to me that many of you Trump supporters are not racist. That would be great. But don’t play victim because you aren’t being heard or because Roseanne got cancelled.
The show got relaunched because ABC though there were enough of you out there to make money off your being represented. It ran the course of its season and was renewed without hesitation, despite other folks protesting the mere thought of giving Roseanne Barr a forum. She was given a chance. So were you. And you both blew it. She in her Twitter feed. And you in your response to it.
WHAT TRUMP SUPPORTERS SHOWED ME
Roseanne Barr, through her show, and the Trump base keep trying to make themselves out as put upon. Falsely accused by the rest of the nation who just refuse to see the true people they are.
Their response to what happened to Roseanne revealed the true people many of them are. As the folks quoted above indicated, these middle-Americans feel underrepresented. They are fed up with being labelled racist and other things. But then crunch time came, and they showed us that deep down those labels are accurate.
What Roseanne Barr said and did was racist and crossed over a line, even by normal racism standards.
But you, middle-American Trump supporter, are not racist are you?
So, of course, not being a racist you said, “Thanks Roseanne. I appreciate that you agree with my political beliefs, and all. But because your recent Tweets do not represent me or my beliefs, I am not going to defend what you did.”
That’s what you said, right?
Because you are not a racist, right?
You backed away from Roseanne because she is a racist, and that’s not who you are, right?
You came right out and condemned racist behavior like the rest of us who think racism is wrong, didn’t you?
Oh wait. No. You didn’t.
You did the exact opposite. You supported Roseanne. Defended her. Downplayed what she said. Excused it.
At best, you tried the back handed, “We all need to be civil, on both sides” attempt to defend her. It wasn’t that bad. Others do it too. It was uncivil, but it’s also unfair how she’s been treated.
Uncivil, my a$$. As if someone picking prettier words would take away from the naked prejudice behind what was said. This is way more ugly than uncivil. This is about racism.
You say you are not a racist. But when crunch time came, you didn’t stand up against racism. Instead you supported the racist.
Guess what that reveals about who you are deep down? Yep. A racist.
Not because I say you are one, but because you acted like one.
That’s not on me. That’s not my fault. That is yours. Your actions. You own up to them.
And that “both sides” or double-standard argument falls to pieces here too. Because before you start going off about Samantha Bee, that is exactly what Liberals did to her. Shut her down. They said, “Samantha, I like your show and all, but what you said was wrong and unacceptable. I don’t care who she is, you don’t talk about a woman like that. That does not represent me or ideals.”
Folks, that’s how it’s done. That’s how we should do it. Call them out when they go too far. Maybe they’ll learn. Maybe they won’t. But we make clear they don’t represent us when they talk like that.
RESOLVING TO DO BETTER GOING FORWARD
In one 12-hour span alone Roseanne Barr spouted a fountain of intolerance. Intolerance of Muslims. Intolerance of African-Americans. In tolerance of Jews. Intolerance of those from other political parties. She is the one who tried to shut down conversation and fill it with fear, lies, and hatred.
It’s not my job to stand up for her intolerance or that of others like her. It’s my job to stand up for my fellow citizens she tried to malign without cause. Muslims. African-Americans. Jews. Other political parties. I will try to keep the conversation going. But to do that, I have to shut down those who would shut the conversation down.
I need to be more intolerant of intolerance in order to preserve not only tolerance, but our national dialogue.
This nation only works as a society of free people. All of us. That means intolerance has no place here. It denigrates our citizens. It shuts down our conversations. In short, it undermines how this republic is supposed to work.
Folks, if you don’t want to be called a racist, then don’t act like one. You want people to be tolerant of you? Be tolerant of them.
Civility does not start with the other side. It starts with you.
But this is about way more than civility. It’s about truly accepting that your fellow human beings are all exactly that. Human beings. Just like you.
Roseanne Barr forgot that.
RECOGNIZING BULLIES OUTSIDE THE SCHOOLYARD
So here’s the deal. Trump bullies. He spreads division, fear, lies, and hatred. Oh yes, he does. That’s how he convinced his supporters in the first place. That’s his shtick. He argues for intolerance. Of Muslims, of Mexicans, of Africans, of African-Americans. And he has trouble calling out racism, bigotry, and misogyny. When called on his garbage, like any bully, he begins crying about how he’s the victim here. He’s not.
Folks, people do not make themselves into bullies by calling out and rejecting a bully. If someone doesn’t want to be called a racist, they shouldn’t act like one. And they shouldn’t support one.
If Trump doesn’t want to be called out on his lies, or his fear-mongering, or his own bigotry and racism, then he should not do those things.
It’s not wrong for society to call such harmful behavior out. In fact, it’s a patriotic duty to do so.
And society doing that doesn’t make Trump a victim. It makes him a bully getting a dressing down, and even a chance to mend his ways.
So just stop trying to make bigots and racists and intolerant a$$holes into victims for being called out on the sh!t they spew. Instead take an honest look at that dump, and start calling it out.
We don’t have to tolerate bullying. We need to stand up for the bullied. It’s okay for us to shut down intolerance that would shut down the conversation. It’s the only way all of us, regardless of political views, get a chance to speak.
Yes, even you Trump supporters. You want to be part of the national dialogue? Stop trying to shut other people out of it. Surely, you can speak your mind and manage that, can’t you?
I support free speech. I support tolerance. But I don’t have to support your cr@p if it’s for either of those being shut down with respect to anyone else.
INTOLERANCE IS NOT THE FAULT OF THE ONES SUPPORTING TOLERANCE
What’s that? If you are shutting things down, it’s only because we made you? We made you vote for Trump because we wouldn’t put up with your intolerance? We made you intolerant by asking you not to be a racist and then calling you out when you acted like one? We made you intolerant when we asked you to stop relying on lies and spreading unsupported conspiracies over fact? We made you scream foul language and hurl insults when the facts were pointed out? We made you?
Reminds me of some dialogue from the 1980s Batman film.
Joker: You made me, remember?
. . . .
Batman: I made you; you made me first.
That’s not how any of this works.
There is no cycle of “you made me be intolerant with your intolerance of my intolerance.” Your intolerance is your choice. My tolerance requires I protect the ideals of tolerance from your intolerance. There has been no cycle.
There are just those who would deny tolerance to people, and those who perpetually defend tolerance. The former is a changing cast of characters. Irish-Need-Not-Apply. Anti-Semites. White supremacists. Homophobes. Misogynists. And the latter stand against all of them.
Tolerance of others does not force someone to be intolerant. It does not make them into a racist, or a bigot.
On the other hand, not shutting down intolerance allows intolerance to grow. Racism and bigotry spread.
INTOLERANCE IS A POISON THAT NEEDS TO BE STOPPED
Roseanne Barr used her Twitter feed to spread intolerance. You can try to tell me she is not really like that. She is a person of charity, and tolerance, who is just playing a persona. Even if that is true, it would not change the fact that she uses Twitter to spread intolerance, fear, and hatred. The people she influences and helps support in their own racism and bigotry aren’t playing a persona. They are very real.
African-Americans in this country get stopped and questioned for having the gall to barbecue like everyone else; take a nap like everyone else; stay at a place like everyone else; throw a pool party like everyone else; go to work like everyone else.
That’s not right, in and of itself. That should be blatantly obvious to you.
But if you are so smallminded as to not understand that, then let me put it in terms you can understand. Yourself.
When we prevent productive members of society from being part of society, we push them to the outside to our detriment. When a person of color presents herself as a doctor offering to provide medical assistance to a plane passenger, and is told that she must be lying, she can’t possibly be a doctor, then the person who suffers is the person needing treatment. That’s you.
Want more reasons to see intolerance as a problem? Patriotism.
Racism and bigotry undermine this country’s democratic principles. Common sense tells us the more one narrows the definition of who is allowed at society’s table, the less free and democratic that society becomes. A study of how authoritarian and fascist states of the past and present came to be confirms that.
And recently, a working paper studying U.S. society found that the more folks embrace racial, cultural, or religious intolerance, the less they tend to value democratic principles. And the more open they become to authoritarian principles of government. The study suggests the spread of white intolerance in this nation is the main threat to this nation’s democratic ideals.
Not abortion. Not gay marriage. Not Medicaid/Medicare for all. Not welfare programs. Nope. The main problem is bigotry, racism, and plain old intolerance. By white people, in particular.
Want to be patriotic? Start rooting out intolerance in yourself and in others.
Racism. Bigotry. And all these other forms of intolerance harm us all. And it is growing. Thanks in part to people like Roseanne Barr calling an African-American not human.
If Barr, and others like her, were pouring poison directly into water reservoirs, we would cry out for her to be stopped.
That is exactly what is going on it. How we look at our fellow Americans is being poisoned by the toxic intolerance that Barr and others like her willingly spread. It’s not my duty to help that spread. It’s my duty to stop it and help clean up the mess left behind.
Again, I am not talking about taking away free speech or advocating violence. I am talking about refusing to allow intolerance influence. I am talking about refusing to play intolerant people’s game of painting themselves as victims should people call them out for victimizing others. Refuse to let the dialogue or the argument shift.
Samantha Bee was vulgar and lewd. Barr was pure, toxic racism. Refuse to let people paint these as equivalents. Refuse to engage in discussions based on the assumption they are equivalents. Shut that kind of garbage down.
Feel free to talk about what you found offensive about Samantha Bee’s comments. But don’t equate what she said and her situation to what Roseanne Barr said and her situation.
What Roseanne Barr said was not just wrong. It was harmful to every single one of us. Especially because of her reach as a celebrity. One of the Trump supporter’s quoted above could not fully grasp that saying someone was not even of human parentage was racist. That right there is proof of what happens when we let this intolerant garbage spread and treat its right to spread as a holy rite of tolerance.
Want more proof? Intolerance in the form of white nationalism has become so commonplace in our society that, this coming mid-terms, at least eight openly white nationalist candidates are running for federal office. As I write this sentence, the anniversary of D-Day draws to a close. And what we fought in Europe back then seeks to hold office in this country today. Because we allow the poison of intolerance to spread under the guise of false equivalencies.
SHUT DOWN INTOLERANT BULLYING
I ran into an anecdote about a doctor and expert on vaccines, who was scheduled to come on a radio show. At the last minute, he found out that, rather than an interview, the show producers set things up for an anti-vaxxer to come in and argue vaccines with the expert. The doctor was outraged. The producers countered with, “Don’t you want to be part of the debate on vaccines?” The doctor pointed out there was no debate. The science is very settled on this matter. Pursuing matters like there is still a debate is just harmful to everyone.
Racism is wrong. There is no debate. And pursing matters like there still is a debate is just harmful to everyone. Thus, we have to stop engaging like there is a debate. It’s a farce which only serves to give a chance to racists to argue that their invalid position has some kind of legitimacy.
That matter is already been settled. It does not have legitimacy. So don’t provide a forum for the debate. Shut it down.
Stand up for the bullied. Stand up against intolerance. Stand up to the bully, and let that bully know you aren’t letting him get away with his bullsh!t anymore.