Mar 032015
 
The ever-acuminate Andrea Grimes of the Texas Observer indulged a poignant twitter lecture about social trolling today, and inspired me to switch topical tracks a bit and add my thoughts.  Context is easily lost on Twitter, especially since I want to drag in some related/supportive stuff, so we’ll do it here instead.

Let’s start by getting something fundamental out of the way.  The political Left and Right perpetually spar over the founders’ design intent here in the United States.  Are we a Democracy?  A Republic?  A Democratic Republic?

The whole argument is needlessly exhausting.

While democracy bore a negative connotation for centuries after its collapse in Athens, US founders were nonetheless heavily influenced by classical Greek democracy and the protections it accorded its least-powerful citizens.  This, while not always practiced as we know, has been enshrined into our Constitution– particularly the Bill of Rights and supported by two centuries of judicial rulings.

Whatever you call our form of governance, at its heart it’s essentially an organized mob rule, designed to be filtered by representation.  It’s therefore easy for diplomatic conventions to break down, especially in a crisis.  It’s incumbent on any governing system to protect the under-served and underprivileged, which often rubs the privileged folk raw:

“Why are [insert demonized demographic here] provided protections above and beyond what I have?”

It’s discouraging to me that Civics 101 has failed so many, because this is not a difficult question to answer.  The weaker the voice of a social class, the more effort its ruling bodies must put into amplifying it… lest it be drowned out by the hyper-vocal mob.  Otherwise, one gets what’s known as the Tyranny of the Majority, wherein the privileged class(es) run roughshod over the rights of others.  This tends to occur in a lemming-like rush driven by perceived threats to the status quo.

Never mind that it’s often good to overturn the status quo.  The threats identified by the mob are magnified by its size, distorted by telephone-gamed word-of-mouth into something far removed from original intent.  That’s what the mob attacks: not the actual issue, but it’s grossly propagandized version.

Don’t be a sheep.  Don’t fall for it.  Get informed.  Know the subject being called-out before joining the mob.

Better yet, never join the mob.

Let’s be critically objective and square something else away: there are degrees of privilege.  Some is automatically conferred just based on you being born in a country that protects your natural rights.  Still more may fall upon you at birth based on other factors beyond your control: skin color, gender*, religion, location, family name, etc.  Anyone who disputes this is living under a delusion.

It is your duty as a person of privilege to protect the rights of those with less.  Forget legislated behavior– this is a core aspect of being human.  Something many of us forget about privilege, too: it can be taken away as easily and randomly as it is given.  Victor today, victim tomorrow.

I’ll just leave you with this:

“Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members ; the last, the least, the littlest.” – Cardinal Roger Mahony (1998)

Now go and be excellent to each other.  After all, why not?

 

*EDIT: I added gender to the privilege list because it’s an obvious one and belonged there.  Some may question the inclusion of religion, but I mention it because children have little or no control over theirs.

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