Words have the power to inspire, inflame, provoke. Or else we wouldn't say them. When words inspire others to kill, however deranged those others might be, we must see the consequences.In my call for common ground and more civility, I received nasty emails or tweets from some A) protesters, B) cops, C) blacks, D) whites, and E) gun nuts. So I must be doing something right.
When those on the political right speak against immigrants, Muslims or abortion, those on the left are quick and correct to observe that words inspire crimes of hate and violence. Similarly, when those on the left speak against police officers -- not just bad ones, but all police officers -- this, too, can have consequences.
No matter one's beliefs, we all need to call out extremism and hate, especially given American's absurdly easy access to guns. No matter how many good people have guns, they cannot always stop a bad person with a gun. An armed society is clearly not always a polite society, so we need to tone it down.
Police need to realize that some in their ranks make mistakes, both honestly and maliciously. This needs to be better acknowledged by those in law enforcement. But just as decent society does not hold every black, Muslim, or white Christian responsible for the murderous acts of a deranged few, it is a mistake to blame hundreds of thousands of police officers for the bad deeds of a few.
July 8, 2016
Tone it down
I wrote this last night for CNN, about the massacre in Dallas: