Dear Mary Pat,
I was very disheartened to see the way that some of my friends responded to Justice Scalia’s death on Facebook. I wasn’t a big fan of the man’s politics and views myself, but I certainly wasn’t celebrating his passing. I know that our country, and our community, is divided by political lines, but that not should give anyone the right to be joyful that he died. I avoid sharing my political opinions online since it doesn’t do any good, but these aren’t political opinions. It is evidence that civility and kindness have flown out the window. Checking my Twitter feed over the weekend brought me even lower. I ended up deleting the app from my phone since people took cruel and hateful to another level. In writing to you, I’m hoping that some of my friends see this and try to learn to be more compassionate.
A New Low
Sister Bay, Wis.
Dear A New Low,
Disheartening is exactly what this is. The rule of social media should still be ‘If you can’t say it to your grandmother, you shouldn’t post it online.’ I don’t know how your grandma or grandpa would react if you said “I’m really glad so-and-so is dead,” but mine would have been temporarily stunned into silence and then followed it up with a stern tongue lashing on how disrespectful and inappropriate that was to say.
In this case, the social media rule should be “Unless you could say it to Justice Scalia’s widow, you shouldn’t post it online.” Maybe your friends shared a snarky meme without thinking or maybe they were more deliberate in their harsh comments, but how would any of them feel if they learned that Scalia’s family saw their posts? Regardless of the man’s politics, he had a wife of 56 years, nine children and 36 grandchildren. And he also had a very good friend who was the exact opposite of the political spectrum, Justice Ginsburg. Their friendship was based on what they had in common. Let’s all take a page from their playbook and look beyond someone’s politics and learn to disagree with someone without being so terribly disagreeable.