Thoughts after leaving a Facebook group

I’m growing intolerant. I find myself unable to shrug off the world easily. I am specifically angered at this time, and quite frequently at other moments, at comments people post on Facebook pages, newspaper comment sections and other public forums.

As examples:

From a Facebook group dealing with the policing of the Toronto G20 gathering:
“bring rope so you can choke them out cold. then look for his badge”

From a Globe and Mail comments section:

“Accused by who, Left Wing Parasitic Unions? Who cares they did a great job of trying to keep the filth off the streets. Lefties are horrid cretins that lie all the time. Chief Blair we have your back and NO Leftie thug will win. “

It is phenomenally distressing that people feel that violent language and abusive statements are acceptable discourse. Language is not neutral—the way we express ourselves is a mirror of the world we wish to live in. How we express ideas helps shapes the world in which we live.

Perhaps my world is too sheltered but the ever increasing tendency towards violence in language and intolerance of others is intimidating. What have we done in our schools, in our child rearing practices, in our media, in our public discourse to encourage intolerance in personal expression, the glorification of violence, the destruction of empathy in our relationship with others as reflected in comments such as illustrated above?

I found the arguments raised in church circles in the 70s and 80s around inclusive language formative. Working within Quaker and Mennonite circles I learned to think about the way violence in language undercuts efforts to create a more peaceful and egalitarian world. This background has probably made it difficult for me to deal with equanimity the comments, often moderated comments, woven throughout the internet publishing world that are symptoms of problems in the wider world I have been trying to address for generations. You don’t create a peaceful world with violence; you don’t create a world of inclusion through violent language.

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