Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Twitter Exchange: A Right-Wing Stranger and I Discuss Mike Priefer, Chris Kluwe

          I was eating lunch at a neighborhood bar and grill today and I looked up at a television broadcasting SportsCenter. Along the bottom line was the news that the Minnesota Vikings had decided to retain Special Teams Coach Mike Priefer, and I literally dropped my jaw. Honestly, I thought I’d misread it, so I waited for it to scroll again, and when I saw it again, I did as nerds like myself do: I took to Twitter.

            In the tweet I wrote, I threw in a couple of hash tags. From time to time I find it easy to lose track of the intention of the hash tag, which is to shore up searches, but it’s probably used more often in a sarcastic fashion. Anyway, the presence of the hash tag got the attention of someone who was apparently trolling the topic of Priefer -- and if you don’t know the back story, get it here, here, and here  -- and he responded.

            Now I don’t have a large following on Twitter, so when someone -- especially if they are someone I don’t know -- responds to me, I geek out a little bit and think I’m going to make some kind of connection. A meeting of minds, a cultivation of thought, if you will. So, I dive in and respond. Were this more of a common occurrence, I would probably run a quick background check on the user first, and then decide what I might be getting into before I drop that baited line in the water.

            Had I done so here, I might have refrained from the thread that follows, and then I wouldn’t have this post to share. But I did do it a tweet or two later, and my first clue should’ve been the avatar. It wasn’t; I glazed over it.

            What I did catch was something about Ronald Reagan, and then I saw something about the G.O.P., and then a retweet of a Reagan quote, G.O.P. this, Reagan quote that, and all of a sudden I felt like I was getting taken to the ghetto in that Dave Chapelle bit (2:55 mark):

          But it was too late, then. I was down the rabbit hole. As a bit of background, I have a history of being irritated by movements that seek to change or modify terminology, rather than putting energy into solving the problem that might have perpetuated the use of particular language. And I don’t say that because I’m out there doing a bunch of good that others aren’t. I just hate when people get wrapped up in trivial details and ignore the bigger picture. That’s what I’m referring to in the lead-in tweet.

            It's not chronologically tit for tat, but it's close. Have a look at the thread that developed:

Update: I thought we were done as of last night, but this guy started it up again at like 4 a.m. today. What follows is part two:

          So, there you go. This totally blew me away, caught me off guard, and consumed the rest of my day. And I felt it was important to share because it hits close to home in terms of what I was saying in the paragraph before the thread, the frequent feeling I have that caused me to write the tweet in the first place.

            This guy didn’t use any ugly language. He didn’t curse, he didn’t slur, and he didn’t deride. Here’s the scary part, though: He didn’t have to.

            It’s easy to do that stuff. It’s practically common nature for folks to start blasting someone, heap on the profanity, then launch into character attacks. That’s the simple stuff for us to identify. You know: This person’s bad because they called me a particular word, and they should therefore be ridiculed, chastised, terminated from their job, and transformed into the biggest public example since.

            But people make mistakes. They choose filthy words. They do selfish things. And sometimes they stand for ideologies that hurt others.

            What I think we overlook a lot is the nastiness that’s disguised, the private horrors that people covet when the sun’s gone down and the shades are drawn.

            I wish there wasn’t hatred in this country. It pains me that we still have so far to go, that there are countless numbers out there that will -- for as long as they are alive and breeding -- always prevent us from moving to where we need to be as a nation, as a culture. And if they can’t prevent us from moving to it, they’ll die trying to slow the pace in which we attempt to get there.

            So I don’t know what this dude’s deal is, and I’m not going to look into it. But he seems young and cocky and conservative, which, in my mind translates to frightening. I try not to generalize. I really do. I’ve been told not to lump the right wing into one category of people, and I try to keep that in mind. It’s hard, though, when so many of them seem to be a handful of traits removed from being clones.

            I choose to believe Chris Kluwe. I have no reason to believe he had an agenda. Mike Priefer looks like a creep, and the fact that Kluwe’s movement -- if I may -- has hit this roadblock feels inconceivable and scary. One of our nation’s top sources of unity -- the National Football League -- is essentially saying that it’s okay to single out groups of people and hate them. And there are people -- Lord knows how many of them -- cheering them for doing so.

            I don’t know where we go from here, but it feels like we need to get somewhere. Fast.