The Politics of Shutting Up

This is a post about politics. I hope it’s calm and rational.

After the horrific shooting(s), many politicians and pundits kept saying they hoped this would help people on social media tone down the rhetoric. I’m all for stating your opinion with clarity, calmness, and understanding. Sometimes, as a comedian, I want to punch harder to make my point, but I try to state my perspective and opinion clearly and respectfully, in general.

That said, all the statements about toning down the partisan attacks really bother me. People kept saying things along the lines of we should all be in this together instead of attacking people over policy differences. And we need to remember we’re all humans and not get so heated over politics. Those are great sentiments, but to me, there is something dark lurking under them.

I feel this is a way of silencing people with legitimate concerns and beliefs and getting them to go along with the status quo.

Politics and policies are not some outside thing to being a human. They should not be a taboo topic to bring up at the dinner table. They’re the process by which we make decisions that impact every tiny part of our lives. They represent huge differences in philosophical approaches to how humans should co-exist in a society.

Politics shouldn’t be a dirty word. They shouldn’t be something that gets swept under the carpet. They should be discussed regularly and with conviction. It’s not always fun. I would rather talk to you about Batman than debate with you about politics. But it’s necessary. It’s our responsibility as part of a society.

For example, I am opposed to the GOP healthcare bill. That is not “just politics.” I believe the bill will cause people I know, and someday probably myself, to choose between poverty and death. That is something I think we should talk about. When your life is actually at risk, you might get a little heated.

I understand the shooting in Virginia is awful. If the response from many politicians is that it makes some of them come together with a renewed sense of bi-partisanship, that’s a great thing to come out of a horrible tragedy.

But it alarms me to see the primary reaction to this tragedy be: Citizens on social media should tone it down.

Here is a strong political opinion stated without anger or venom to any specific ideology: I would like our politicians to do something about gun violence. I’m not making a fiery argument about exactly what. I just want every politician who is concerned with the “tenor of social media” to also acknowledge America has a massive problem with gun violence. And then start discussing it. Do the actual work of politics: Exchange views, debate, compromise, write legislation. If it doesn’t work, start over.

I’ll do my best to keep a calm, reasonable tone and an open mind. But I won’t be told to be quiet by politicians who will not admit there is an obvious problem that needs their attention.

Now I need to go write some jokes about Batman.

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