(Nov. 15) The degraded nature of public discussion these days surely owes much to people feeling as if they aren’t being heard when they try to speak up respectfully. Last week, though, I saw one small reason to believe respectful discourse can still be achieved.

Rarely have I received such a vitriolic response to anything I’ve written than I did to my column last week arguing that, legal guilt or innocence aside, Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooter Kyle Rittenhouse bears a large degree of moral responsibility for the deaths of two people he shot. Obscenities came in via almost every venue of social media, along with one direct threat and a challenge to a fight from a hotheaded congressional candidate obviously looking for attention.

I couldn’t keep up with the full barrage of hate mail, but I did reply to one particular missive as a test, hoping to determine why people these days tend to become so verbally abusive so quickly.

This note came under the subject line, “F*** you Quinn.” Its author was just a random reader who wrote:

“You are a left wing p***y. No one trust or believes you, your credibility is as solid as your spine, not much! Go back and read your own  bullsh** and see how it lines up with real facts as they come out.  You then try to justify all your misses by rationalizing your opinion, that isn’t journalism that is party propaganda, and you dipsh**s are mad because you have lost the public trust and respect, once again ‘F*** you and your horsesh** opinions, you are the divider not the opposite, ass eyes.”….

[I didn’t like that, but I tried twice to answer courteously instead of angrily. What happened then was a revelation. Suddenly, the writer changed his tune, so much so that his final note to me ended like this:]

“Thank you for the replies, I was appreciative that you took the time to respond. Have a nice weekend and a great holiday season, Bless you and your extended family.”

Perhaps, just perhaps, even as angry as so many people are, there remains a willingness to engage respectfully if even a modicum of decency is extended toward them. Even if the feeling of voicelessness catalyzes a vulgar fury, that fury may dissipate if the voice begins to be acknowledged….

[The full column is at this link.]


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