We get a lot of helpful emails, suggesting topics for our articles, or slogans for our bumper stickers and t-shirts. A lot of the suggestions we get are very useful, some are just plain strange, and a few are a bit scary. We recently got an email that fits into the scary category, and we want to share it with you, in the interest of dispelling the danger that it represents.
This email, from "Billy", was sent not just to us, but to a number of other progressive-leaning web sites, such as Democracy Lost, and Alternet. In this email, Billy sends us a graphic he has made to "make fun of this years events". He asks us to "enjoy" it.
The graphic consists of a basic background, and the words "Kill Bush Vote November 2004."
You know, here at Irregular Times, we tell our readers to do a lot of things to George W. Bush. We suggest that our readers vote Bush out of office. We talk about sending Bush back to Texas, about giving him the boot. Dump Bush, or toss Bush out, sure. We even have a bumper sticker that suggests practicing nonviolence in spite of the temptation to give Bush a spanking.
But kill Bush? No, we never have suggested that, and we never will.
First of all, in spite of what "Billy" writes, it's just not funny or at all interesting to say "Kill Bush". It's the political equivalent of potty humor, like a toddler saying "poop" and giggling. We can forgive this level of amusement in a three or four year-old, but not in anyone of voting age, or even in anyone old enough to get on a computer and create a graphic to email around in the hopes that someone puts it on their web site. This is even less clever than Arnold Schwarzeneger's robotic character saying "Hasta La Vista" before killing people. We admit that Irregular Times is not top of the line entertainment, but we're not so crass as to stoop to this level.
Second, we think it's wrong to kill people. George W. Bush is a creep, but he's also a person, and he doesn't deserve to be killed. We disagree with him, and we're happy to make fun of him, just as we're sure that others make fun of us. Talking about killing someone is not making fun of them. It's threatening them with death.
We're bothered by the way that George W. Bush can't seem to see anything more subtle than a world full of good guys and bad guys, with his way being the way of righteousness, and the way of his opponents being the path of evil. To suggest killing Bush, you've got to buy into this kind of perspective, thinking that Bush is so wicked that the only way to defeat him is to kill him. Bush is an idiot, and he's terribly misguided, and sometimes mean spirited, but he's not really evil. People can be wrong without being wicked.
Third, killing Bush is a really stupid plan. It's a stupid plan because George W. Bush is a figurehead. It's his top advisors, including Vice President Dick Cheney, who are really doing most of the work of the Presidency. If you kill Bush, you're just erasing the facade of a Bush presidency. No real change in the people in charge in the White House would take place as a result of a Bush assassination.
Furthermore, there would probably be no better way to promote Bush's agenda than to kill him. After a Bush assassination, Americans would rally to the Republicans in a sympathetic reflex. Americans would also feel much more willing to tolerate more violations of our constitutional freedoms, out of the fear of future attacks against our government. In politics, blatant attempts to destroy opponents usually fail. A much more intelligent approach to politics is to let one's opponents destroy themselves.
To Billy and to all other Americans who are so angry with Bush that they consider violence against him: We agree that Bush is a dangerous man, but he's most dangerous when you take him seriously. Mock him. Laugh at him. Realize how absurd he is, and then, on Election Day, get serious and vote.
In America, we have a history of revolutions without violence. We have the right to overthrow our leaders, and there's not a thing they can do about it, if we actually just take the time to participate in the democratic process. Freedom is a tiresome thing to protect. People are right when they say that freedom isn't free. What they almost always neglect to point out is that, as costly as freedom is, you can't buy it with blood.
Democracy is nonviolent, or it is not democracy. George W. Bush is a threat to democracy because he doesn't understand this basic principle. Billy, and all the other little assassin wannabes are a threat to democracy for the same reason. As long as America is a democracy, we will always be vulnerable to our own foolishness. The alternative that Billy suggests, however, is much worse: For America to be ruled by the political party with the most efficient killers.
We wish that last statement was mere hyperbole. Unfortunately, many conservative organizations are actively instructing their followers to hunt down and kill liberals. Please, let's not beat the conservatives at their own game.
Irregular Times require open minds and open mouths.
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