Brett Haddock | Make political discourse decent againContributor October 30, 2018 1 COMMENT
It’s that time of year again, houses are all decked out in the seasonal Halloween decor. We see typical spider webs, skeletons, headstones, and the like. One display that caught my attention was a particular set of headstones that bore the names of politicians whose ideology this homeowner ostensibly disagreed with.
“Hillary Clinton – We’re waiting b—!” reads one tombstone. “Insert Nancy Pelosi here,” reads another, with an arrow pointing to the ground. The next tombstone is labeled “Gavin Newsom” with a death date of “this Nov.”
There is even one that says, “Republican Party – Should Have Backed Trump!” For some reason others indicated already deceased celebrities, like “Mini-Me” and Tom Petty. Another just simply said “The Beatles.” Who dislikes The Beatles that much?
While the display’s imagery and language is itself alarming, more so is the fact that it’s next door to a daycare center. Children and their parents are seeing this on a daily basis. What message is it sending, especially after some of these people recently received bombs in the mail? Angry rhetoric is turning into violent attacks.
Criticizing people is fine, but this crosses a line. We’ve gotten to a place where our discourse is using hyperbole that some followers may not fully understand is hyperbolic. Leaders and those of us with aspirations for public office need to ensure our language does not normalize and embolden awfulness and violence.
As regular citizens, we often hear the refrain “see something, say something.” If my neighbor were the one with the abhorrent Halloween display, I would definitely say something to them. We need to call out these examples when they’re seen and push back against it. I have friends and family who are in direct opposition of my political viewpoints. We’ll never agree on the color of the sky, much less anything political. Despite our differences, they’ll never call for my death, nor I theirs. It’s perfectly acceptable to disagree with someone; to share your viewpoints in the marketplace of ideas.
If we can’t look at something like this and agree it is wrong, then what can we agree on?
I worry we’re reaching a point of no return, where the rhetoric continues to escalate unabated. Hyperbolic statements lead to statements inciting violence, and statements inciting violence eventually lead to actual violence. If your response to criticism is calling for the assault of those that are critical, you shouldn’t have a platform to spread your message. It’s our collective responsibility to push back and make our discourse decent again.
Brett Haddock is a Canyon Country resident and a candidate for the Santa Clarita City Council.
The Santa Clarita Valley Proclaimer’s opinion section does not represent the official opinions of Radio Free Santa Clarita, its board and its supporters.