I was reading the news on the web the other day and came across an article about Congresswoman Giffords. The piece reported that she had asked one of her longtime associates to run for her vacant seat.
It was innocuous enough story. But, then, for reasons that I can only describe as masochistic, I scrolled down to read the commentary left by other visitors to the site There were a few remarks left by well-wishers, and then scores of vituperative attacks…on her, on her husband, on President Obama, on Democrats, on liberals and moderates in general.
I'll spare you the details of what was specifically said. Suffice that they were quite awful. The least offense of them referred to Giffords herself as "mush head." Other posts from other readers announced that of course all politicians were parasites and would be duly removed in the coming libertarian revolution. Still others repeated the Birther fantasy which, for reasons I will never understand, remains alive and kicking.
I knew, of course, that these incredible remarks were the work of a few sad, sick bastards who otherwise would be scrawling four letter words in their own excrement on the walls of public rest rooms. The only difference is that now the Web, and its anonymity, allows them to smear their feces across the globe.
I knew that. Yet, I found myself depressed. Consider the recent GOP debates with all their venom. What if this is the new norm for political discourse? What if this…the verbal abuse, the bald-faced lies, the utter lack of empathy, the demonization of others, the thinly veiled calls for violence…is the rhetoric of our age?
What then? Where do we go? In the grip of such deadly passions?