Our View: Block hate whether on the streets or online

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It would be naïve to think that America will ever be a country where everyone calmly, rationally and courteously debates issues and finds resolutions to personal and societal grievances. That’s because there are those among us who choose violence in word or deed when feeling wronged – no matter how small the particular slight they feel that they were forced to endure. Far too many drivers find themselves on the business end of a pistol for driving too closely or failing to signal a lane change. Far too many of our children are taking their own lives because they feel they have no other solution to the barrage of bullying that they endure from their classmates. And it has gotten worse with the rise of instant, and anonymous, communications courtesy of social media. People can now vent their personal frustrations to the world with just a few taps – people lashing out without thinking, hating without caring and bullying without repercussions.

That has to stop.

Hate, bigotry and venom in their many forms far too often rule the day when reasonable people remain silent when faced with the poison of abhorrence. We can all play a part – no, we must all play a part – in changing the culture of accepting intolerance and spiteful behavior.

The tragedy last weekend in Charlottesville, where a gathering of neo-Nazis put their words into action, illustrates what could happen if we do nothing: Our streets and communities taken over by thugs bearing Tiki torches in a sickening display of KKK hatefulness that must not be allowed to flourish in this 21st century.

Sure, everyone has the First Amendment right to freedom of speech but we as a society have the obligation to call out extremist views and violent actions for what they are and refuse to let it go unchallenged by common sense and rational thought. Singling out one race, one religion, one people or one person for termination cannot and will not happen in these United States as long as brave-hearted folks come together and meet evil face-to-face when and where it stands on the streets of our neighborhoods. Spewing hate online is one thing – a big thing and a real threat to our society – and doing so out in public its incarnation. In both cases, hate should not go unchecked and we must talk more and yell less. If someone posts something spiteful online and invites you to join in, think twice before becoming part of the problem.

We must debate like rational human beings, not troll behind computer screens. We must stand up rather than remain seated when wrongs arise in all aspects of our human condition. 

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