Be nice, Ms. Palin
Friday, February 26, 2010
HAYDENVILLE - It is so vital that the issue of bullying is finally coming into the spotlight. It's sad it took a teen's death in South Hadley - and no doubt the deaths of many others unknown to us.
But we all should have seen the bullying epidemic coming and we need to recognize that it is everywhere.
On TV, shows like "Survivor" exalt a cunning, conniving Social Darwinism that has been the dark side of humanity since the beginning, something society has struggled to subdue. "Real life" TV shows send a schizophrenic message because they're not about real life. They exist to sell products, and social consequences of the programming are of no concern.
The programmers think that if it draws eyeballs and advertisers, it must be good. And viewers think if it's on TV and people watch and talk about it, it must be good.
Now, modern communications technology has given everyone a voice and the ability to speak to - or sometimes bully - large audiences without consequence.
Apparently 25 percent or so of our nation, people with "family values," embrace Sarah Palin. Yet it seems to me that she is a bully. She seems to attack for the sake of putting people down and offers little beyond name-calling and playing to the crowd. Nothing constructive. Nothing that informs. Just attack. Isn't that bullying? Or worse, isn't she inciting bullies?
Would one of the definitions of bullying be aggressively slighting someone with misleading or incorrect assertions? Ms. Palin says Obama is "pallin' around with terrorists" # "might be a Muslim" # is "creating death panels"# or "wants to kill your grandmother." Isn't creating fear a part of bullying?
Another definition of bullying might be to attack someone no matter what they actually say. Ms. Palin says Obama is "that charismatic guy with a Teleprompter," yet as Palin said this, she had three talking points written on her hand.
Recently the use of an unsavory word, in private and among friends, led Ms. Palin to call for the resignation of the President's closest advisor. She's trying to bully him into resigning. Yet Rush Limbaugh can say the same word, repeatedly, and he is left untouched by Palin.
Palin recently said she wasn't quite up on world affairs when she ran for the vice presidency. She said on a recent Sunday that "I sure as heck better be more astute on these current events, national issues than I was two years ago."
The nerve of this woman! To run for the nation's second-highest office. The former candidate says that as for her political future, she'll do what's best for the nation "and for the Palin family."
Oh, thank goodness. And for her to be so condescending as to mock American dreams and desires by calling them "that #hopey, changey' thing" at the Tea Party convention shows not just her juvenile approach to serious matters, but her apparent contempt for the voters' electoral choices.
It's no surprise she is adored by the Tea Party people. We are all concerned and disappointed with what has come out of Washington. We are alarmed about what happened on Wall Street after the GOP deregulated the financial world.
But some of us are also alarmed about this Tea Party movement. I am worried about its rising power and wonder what it is doing to our democracy. Tea Party people, in my view, reveled in having their bullying live on TV for all the world to see.
The incivility I see on display does not represent the best of America.
And now, just about everyone carries on personal conversations using devices that can easily be monitored. We carry electronic tools that can track our whereabouts, minute to minute.
Who is listening - and who is watching? Who really knows who? In the hands of bullies, what might this mean?
In these difficult and pivotal times, it is ever so important to have a fresh look at bullying. It's always been there, rearing its ugly head. But now I fear it's out of the bottle and in treacherous bloom.
It's no longer something in the school yard, to be outgrown as we enter the civil, adult world, but rather something to be admired.
It's here within us - and increasingly, it appears to be socially acceptable.
If we don't speak out, we are the bullies.
David Maxwell is a photographer and resident of Haydenville.