Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
I got a lot of compliments from readers about last week’s column (“American Exceptionalism sans actual intelligence”). There are, however, people who take exception to my musings, people who do not agree with everything I write. And that’s great! I can be an opinionated curmudgeon at times, and not everything I write will drip like honey from an angel’s quill pen. Besides, it can be constructive to provoke thought and debate on the issues of the day.
What is amazing to me are the people who can’t stand what I write, yet come back each week just to get their wingnuts torqued off all over again. Some send in replies to the paper, some post their disdain on social media and other online outlets – but they still read the column each week. This might be just me speaking, but if something upset me that much, perhaps I’d quit doing that something! Latent masochistic tendencies of certain individuals aside, here are the kinds of people who should quit reading this column immediately and search for their happy places elsewhere.
- If you make up your own facts. If you believe that President Obama is a card-carrying Muslim born in Kenya, if you believe the moon landings were a big hoax, if you believe the effluent spouting from bloviating talking heads on cable news channels is more accurate than peer-reviewed papers and studies from actual researchers and scientists – you shouldn’t be reading this column. Fifteen years ago, measles was totally eradicated in the USA. The anti-vaccination movement, based upon discredited studies, has grown to the point that parents believe that infecting their children at “measles parties” is somehow better than decades of hard scientific evidence showing that vaccines work. What’s next? Are we going back to the days of polio wards? Do we want a resurgence of eradicated diseases like smallpox, diphtheria, and whooping cough? Or do actual public health concerns outweigh the cries of the misinformed?
- If you are a raging hypocrite. In 2013, after Congressional action resulted in two million working American families, children and seniors being cut off from food assistance, comedian John Fugelsang said, “[Congress] cut services for the poor and taxes for the rich. And it’s a free country. They’re allowed. But if you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian values. Because you don’t.”
- If, after all is said and done, you are just a mean person. If you forward emails or post items to social media that aren’t true – and you never bothered to check the veracity of the accusations or claims being made – then you really aren’t a nice person. If you find joy in the misery of others, you really aren’t a nice person. If you engage in name-calling, insults, and belittling those with whom you may not agree on certain issues, you really aren’t a nice person. You should do us all a favor and quit poisoning our world with your vitriol and hate.
And in the end, the love you take really is equal to the love you make. If all you want to do is spread lies and filth and hate-speak, you are doing nothing to build good will. You don’t want a better world. All you really want is to perpetuate ill will and drag everyone down to your level. And if that is you, no matter how nice you think you may be, you really aren’t a nice person.
As was pointed out in a recent social media post, one of my favorite sayings was uttered by the character of Col. Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson) in the movie A Few Good Men, when he spit at Tom Cruise the phrase, “You can’t handle the truth!” And that describes a lot of people in this Misinformation Age. Not everything you read on the Internet or your email inbox is true. Enlightenment isn’t always easy. But doing the right thing – trying to make our world a better place – is a far better thing than dragging everyone into one’s personal poison pit. And if you really aren’t a nice person, you should stop reading this column. It will just make you mad.
John Bartus is a singer/songwriter, former Mayor of the City of Marathon, and President of the Rotary Club of Marathon. John performs Saturdays at the Key Colony Inn, Mondays at the Castaway Restaurant, and Thursdays at Sparky’s Landing! www.johnbartus.com.