Friday, September 21

A Children's Game, a Legal Principle, and Stop Making Me Sad

This blog entry will be a political screed. And there's at least a 50 percent probability it's about you.

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Here's a fun game. I learned it from Nelson Muntz, the bully of Springfield. When someone uses the word "but" in a sentence, shout "Ha ha! You said 'Butt'!"

Fun, right?

It's not? It's stupid? Then please, I beg you, stop doing it.

* * *

Here's a pop quiz from day ten of law school: What's worse?
A. Inadvertantly killing somebody.
B. Trying to kill someone, and failing.

The correct answer? B. Without question. The reason is a legal principle called Mens rea -- criminal intent. If your intentions are evil, you don't get a free pass just because you're also an incompetent marksman.

The life lesson here is that when people have good intentions, when they seek to do good, but their results fall short, they get a lot more latitude than people whose intentions are bad, but whose results are inadvertently benign.

It also means that if you're wise, you recognize the good intent behind words and actions. You may legitimately disagree with a man over whether his approach to problem solving will be successful, but if you're honorable, you don't attribute bad character to him merely because he has a different opinion about how to accomplish a good end.

* * *

A couple of triggers make it nearly impossible to stay out of the refrigerator. I'll bet you have some, too.

Here are mine:
* Frustration.
* Pain.
* Sadness -- which is just pain of the brain.

If sadness were limited to -- I dunno -- sorrow over life's expected tragedies, I could probably just roll with it. Tragedy is, after all, a building block of joy. You can't know joy if you've never experienced sorrow. And when life deals a bad hand, the sun still comes up the next day. With time and effort, you get past it.

But then there's a different kind of sadness, the kind that comes when you finally realize there are people on this earth who just love to deal out misery, who behave as though they're manning a blackjack table and unkindness is a deck of cards.

Sadly, those misery merchants seem to thrive on social media, spinning reality, making a mockery of free speech as they throw around ill-considered political caricatures.

Here's a free clue: The presidential candidate you're not voting for? He's smart -- brilliant, even. He graduated from a prestigious ivy-league university with a law degree, and then passed the bar exam. His wife adores him. He's funny. He's a great father with terrific kids. He's living an honorable life. He's not crazy, not malicious, not a cheater, not a hypocrite, and definitely not evil. He's not running for office because he needs the paycheck; he's already rich. He's running for office because he wants to do good in the world.

Who am I talking about?

I'm talking about the guy you hate, the guy you're voting against, the guy who can do nothing to persuade you to vote for him.

It doesn't matter which candidate you hate. Or like. My description applies equally to both men.

And your nasty, malicious, distorted, dishonest depictions of what the candidate you dislike said? You know you're misrepresenting truth. You know it. And every time you post another twisted misrepresentation of what the candidate said, every time you shriek "Ha ha! You said 'Butt'!" you change nobody's vote; you change only my opinion of you, of your character, of your integrity.

Think about that. You're making me sad. You're making me want to open my refrigerator and eat a horse, or a kitten, or a puppy, or whatever might make you stop being nasty! Please. Stop making me sad. Stop making everyone who resists posting political screeds sad. And fat.

There. I said it. Be nice. Have some integrity. Be kind, be generous of spirit, be honorable, be honest.

You just can't stop yourself? Remember this: If I get fat again before the election, it's your fault.

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Did you think I wouldn't post this link? Taylor Swift is singing at YOU: Why You Gotta Be So Mean?