Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

Lack of civility only getting worse

Many moons ago, when I was the editor of the Basin Republican Rustler, I wrote an editorial asking where was the civility. This came after a Manderson town council member, in an open public meeting, used a derogatory, racist slur to refer to then President Barack Obama.

I believe now, the universe said to me, “You ain’t seen nothing yet kid.” Of course, over the past several years I could site hundreds of incidents about the lack of civility, but one incident this week I found disturbing and I feel I must call Karlee Provenza out for her actions.

Per media reports, on Saturday Provenza, the Wyoming State House Minority Whip from Cheyenne, on Saturday posted a meme of a grandma using an AK-47 to protect transgender people. This came less than a week after a 28-year-old alleged transgender shot and killed six people at a Christian school in Tennessee.

Along with the photo of “grandma” and the AK-47, states, “Auntie Fa Says Protect Trans Folks Against Fascists & Bigots.”

On a Facebook post the Wyoming Cowboy State Daily reported that Provenza wrote, ““I apologize for failing to recognize the potential impact of my actions on social media, which have contributed to inflammatory and distracting online discourse.”

The Daily Caller wrote that Provenza defended the post in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation, stating, “The meme has nothing to do with the shooting. Trans people and allys (sic) have been cultivating a culture of self-defense for years and this meme is part of that,” Provenza said. “There is a clear difference between the use of guns for mass shootings and the use of guns for self-defense – I would have thought republicans would know that.”

The problem with the meme is it was not a self-defense meme. It was stating the way you take care of fascists and bigots is with violence.

Owning a gun and believing in the Second Amendment does not mean you feel shooting everyone who disagrees with you is the answer.

Violence, as I have advocated before, is never the answer.

Provenza can state that the meme had nothing to do with the shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, but timing is everything. With many people still reeling from the shooting the meme, for some could signify Provenza’s approval of the mass shooting. I am not saying she does, but the meme indicates approval of taking care of fascists and bigots with violence.

But the reaction to Provenza’s meme is even worse than her posting it. She has received death threats.

Seriously, what is wrong with our society. You can’t get mad at someone and say they are promoting violence and follow that with a death threat for posting a meme of all things.

Last week Whoopi Goldberg wore a sweatshirt that had the words “Thoughts and Prayers” crossed out and the words above it said “policy and change.”

People called her evil and I am sure even worse things.

It was not a religious statement. It was a political statement. Goldberg was calling for more than thoughts and prayers to stop mass shootings. That does not make her evil.

I had hoped that the lack of civility by one small town council member about 10 years ago would have been the worst of it but instead his comments now seem small in comparison to the lack of civility at every turn.

Wyoming House Speaker Albert Sommers, in a statement about Provenza said, “The implication that violence is necessary to solve political differences has no place in the Wyoming Legislature. I strongly and unequivocally condemn this type of attitude on social media or otherwise. As Speaker of the House, I have held that civility towards each other is the mechanism to ensure we can work together. Civility is the basic expectation of how a member of the Wyoming House of Representatives should conduct themselves, both on and off the floor of the House.

“I have also been made aware of threats to kill or harm Representative Provenza because of her social media post. The issuance of death threats against an elected official in any context or anyone else is reprehensible and unlawful. Again, there is simply no room in the legislative sphere for use of fear or threatened violence.”

He is right, there is no room in the legislative sphere, but there should be no room for use of fear or threatened violence in any sphere regardless of religious or political views.

I wish I had an answer for our society.

Perhaps during this Easter season, the best answer is love. The love that Christ showed, an unconditional love.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Perhaps, one day, people will begin to see one another with love and not hate, until then we can speak out against the hate and against uncivil acts.

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