September 5, 2017

Violent Political Rhetoric

In our polarizing politics, we often see people resort to violent comments. These remarks - especially bad in anonymous comment sections online - are unethical and can incite physical violence against others. Hate rhetoric has often been linked to later acts of physical attacks and even murder.

Unfortunately, even elected officials - those tasked to implement our democratic process - sometimes resort to undemocratic violent rhetoric. Two cases occurred recently in Missouri.


First, Democratic State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal wrote a Facebook comment declaring, "I hope Trump is assassinated!" She quickly deleted the post, but not before people took screenshots of it. Leaders from both political parties condemned her comment, urged her to resign, and stripped her of committee assignments (and there's an effort to remove her from office). Chappelle-Nadal apologized from a church pulpit, but refuses to resign.

Second, Republican State Representative Warren Love wrote a Facebook post saying that he hoped people who vandalized a Confederate statue "are found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope" (an attitude that actually fits quite well with the statue in question). Leaders from both political parties condemned his comment and urged him to resign (though Republicans were not as forceful in criticizing their own as they or Democrats were in criticizing Chappelle-Nadal). Love has said he shouldn't have posted the remark, but refuses to resign and didn't even apologize or delete the post (though one of his family members did). He attends a Baptist church.

Both of these officials should be removed from office. Their rhetoric is not only inappropriate, but it undermines the very democratic institutions they are supposed to serve. Officials who use violent political rhetoric have betrayed the public trust and the oaths they swore when they took office. They also set a poor example for others, thus helping to further damage our public discourse.

It's particularly troubling when lawmakers who profess to be Christians employ violent political rhetoric. We must show a better way. It's not enough to be named "love." Our words should actually proclaim love.

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