I have a dear friend whom I have known for probably 25 years or more. He’s a neat fellow, retired from the Marine Corps and a civilian career. If I had to name one person in the world that it would be good to have with you in a tight spot, it would be him.
I could spend quite some time extolling his virtues, his help to others both personally and through community volunteer activities. But for all of that, he took a mean-spirited pot shot at President Obama on Facebook, something I’ve never seen in person.
I say all that to suggest that there is something different between being behind a keyboard and living real life. Personally, I have been consciously striving to bring the two closer together, and because I’m paying attention to the problem, I know that it is not easy to do that.
This article is occasioned less by my friends comment on Facebook than by a large number of comments I’ve been reading as I classify them from Orly’s web site. I think about Adam Cox who got into trouble for typing a threat against Joe Arpaio that he never meant. I’ve certainly written some nasty things, particularly in emails, that I’d never say in person, and probably never think in person.
It’s a strange business. What I want to suggest is that at least some of the birther comments that you see, hate-filled, seditious and violent, are not the whole story about those commenters. What we see might be anger and frustration more than a reasoned conclusion of what they want to see happen. At least I hope so.