Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Nothing to say, really

I'm tired, I had a long day, and I just haven't got much to say right now.

At least, I think I don't have much to say. If I keep typing long enough, I'm sure something will come out. It might be utter nonsense, but it could be something.

My post yesterday about how people who use violence to suppress blasphemy against their religion is how I truly feel about the subject, but in the most recent incident there's another twist, of course. The folks who were the target of the violence are also, in my not-so humble opinion, idiots. They aren't nearly the hypocritical faithless idiots that the gunmen coming after them are, but they are still idiots. The reason being that they intentionally attempted to provoke the violence. I'm not saying that free speech should be limited, not by a long shot. But I think it's absolutely reasonable to call people idiots who use their free speech in such a way that they know it's going to provoke people. And yeah, they maybe are pushing the boundaries and allowing the conversation about violence to move forward... but they are also deliberately poking the rabid dog with a stick. That makes them idiots.

In addition, this particular group of idiots has been acting in bad faith in many ways for a long time, so that just adds to their idiocy.

Still, it doesn't justify the violence.

I was on a bus in West Seattle many years ago, headed home from work. There was an altercation in the back of the bus. The driver stopped the bus and a skinny white boy ran forward and jumped off. I heard the driver ask him if he should call the police. The boy shook his head and ran away. Two black kids, about the same age, were being castigated by an old man, also black, in the back of the bus. One of the boys said, "But he called us n****s!" There was a sort of gasp all along the bus to that, and the old man suddenly looked very sad and even older. He said, "That's still no excuse for hitting him." The driver refused to move the bus until the two boys got off, which they eventually did, although they took their time about it.

I've never forgotten the look in the man's eyes. The sadness, the weight of years of abuse. The quiet response, "That's still no excuse."

I wonder how many times some idiot did the same thing to him, trying to provoke him. Trying to make him hate. Trying to make him less of a person somehow. How many times did he have to put up with that same garbage throughout his life? Looking back, I'm impressed he could be so calm.

The proper response to nasty words is reasoned, sharp words. The proper response to ridicule is counter-ridicule. The proper response to blasphemy in the form of cartoons is probably cartoons making fun of the cartoonists or something they hold dear. You don't bring a gun to a war of ideas and expect to win more than a temporary battle.

But it's also good to not go around intentionally provoking people.