Monday, February 24, 2014

Freedom of speech, doesn't mean free of consequences

It is not okay to be mean!

Please excuse my rant, but I am so tired of the craziness.  I am tired of the excessive rhetoric on social media.   I'm tired of people belittling others and justifying their actions.  I believe we all have a responsibility to each other - and anonymous insults, threats and negative commentary is not helping any of us. 

Ahhhh - thanks for letting me get that out there.  I live in Arizona, a state that some people consider Ground Zero for bigotry & intolerance, and based on some of our state legislation, that is not always an inaccurate statement, but to paint all Arizonans with the same brush is as wrong as the legislation that many think define us. 

Despite the intolerance of some narrow minded and often short sighted legislators, I really do love this state.  There is a lot to love about Arizona.  We have some of the best weather in the country (at least during the fall, winter & spring months).  Arizona sunsets are unparalleled in their beauty.  Our state boasts an amazing collection of diverse cultures and a rich history.  Arizona is home to 22 federally recognized Native American tribes.  According to Google (based on US census numbers) Arizona has a population of 6.553 million people.  Most Arizonans are kind and caring, but like most states, we have our share of challenges.  We are a state that has much to offer.

 Unfortunately we are also home to some of the most discriminatory proposed laws in this country – for example the current controversy over Senate Bill #1062.  If you haven’t heard about this law, it’s an attempt to protect an individual’s right to discriminate based on their religious beliefs – and the primary target of the bill is the LGBT community.   

I am not writing to persuade anyone to support or oppose this law, I am writing this post because after several days of my Facebook & Twitter feed absolutely blowing up about this law, I am frustrated with the lack of ability of either side to conduct any kind of reasonable discourse about the issues.  Social media has made it so easy to simply SHOUT your indignation or outrage, or just plain old insults at other people.  For some reason – even reasonable people, who would never shout insults at total strangers, let alone friends and co-workers, these reasonable people feel that it is okay to be mean and rude on social media. 

It is not okay to be mean or rude to anyone – even if you don’t agree with them, and even if they are mean and rude first!  When did we as adults stop following basic common courtesy?  This acceptance of mean and rude behavior has infiltrated every aspect of our culture – even the news media participate in name calling and sensationalism. 

I don’t know if the Arizona Governor will sign or veto this bill, I personally hope that she will veto, but either way – it is not okay for me to spew hatred simply because I disagree.  I am going to try my best to bring back some civility to social media – even if I am outnumbered, because being polite is the right thing to do. 

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