Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

November 8, 2012

Pre- and post-election behavior appalling

By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer

CROSSVILLE — I have to admit I'm glad the presidential election is over. I admit I was disappointed in several things concerning the election, as well. Honestly, the candidates had little to do with my disappointment. I had many reasons to be excited about this election — the main one being both my children were old enough to vote and did vote in their first presidential election.

Voting is extremely important and both my wife and I have instilled that mind set into our children. There have been both men and women who have fought and died for our right to vote. It's not something that should be taken for granted or scoffed over.

What bothered me and disappointed me was the conduct of people both on a national level and local level. It was very disturbing to me to see the hate, animosity and attacks, both political and personal. I'm not talking about between the candidates, either. That's always bothered me, but I've gotten used to that behavior. However, that doesn't make it appropriate or acceptable.

The conduct of the people who I call friends and acquaintances prior to and after the election was bothersome to me.

In fact, some people I have known for years made derogatory, hate-filled posts on social media sites not only aimed at candidates but toward the people who supported them. This type of cyber-bullying is disturbing — especially when it's among "adults."

I use that term very loosely, by the way.

One woman, who I have always considered a constant professional and friend, made a post stating she didn't appreciate all the people bashing her state because of its political party leanings and stated that people who have moved here from other areas in the country should move out. Her post said people should move to a state where their political party rules — that way everyone would be happy.

Political party segregation by states? Wow! Now that totally threw me off guard and I now seriously question her professionalism and opinions.

I guess part of what I blame for this recent hatred, bigotry and cyber-bullying is social media. I know that some people are always going to act like this no matter if they are in person, or hiding behind a computer screen.

There are others, though, who because of the convenience and ease of social media sites, smart phones and technology, simply make a comment and put it out there for the whole world to see in an instant, without really thinking about the statement they are making.

Please remember that when you post something like this on the Internet, it is out there potentially permanently.

It greatly disturbs me when friends I have feel concerned or stifled from expressing their opinions about a subject out of fear of retaliation or a group of people cyber-bullying them.

Name calling, cussing, pointing fingers and harassment shouldn't be something you resort to just because you don't agree with somebody, their opinion, or political candidate.

In this past election, this type of behavior was more popular, prevalent and practiced more than I've ever seen before. This behavior is disrespectful, wrong and selfish. It truly saddens me to think many of these people also call themselves Christians and passed judgment on others for their beliefs.

That is NOT Christian behavior.

We should all be respectful of one and other, whether on social media sites, in print, or in person.

I also blame many of the talk radio and television programs where hosts are riling up listeners with their opinions and and hate-filled attacks against one another.

I'm not saying there is one political party or another that is primarily taking part in this behavior. It's both sides.

Whether your candidate won the election or not, I feel it is important that we respect the office of the president of the United States and support those who are our leaders nationally and locally.

If you don't agree with them or what they do, then that's fine. Vote differently in the next election — or run for office yourself. Just because you don't agree with them or their actions does not give you the right to persecute, name-call, belittle or bully their supporters.

This is America and everyone should feel free to express their opinions without fear of retaliation or harassment. Our political system may not be perfect, but it is the best system in the world, where people are given the freedom of choice to pick their leadership.

It's also time for us to work together, put aside political partisanship and save our country.

Leaders, let's quit bickering and pointing fingers and work together to get something done.

I intentionally am not naming any names, but those of you who are guilty of this type of cyber-bullying behavior probably know who you are and should be ashamed.

My greatest hope is that we can learn to work together for the good of all and for the benefit of generations to come.

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Gary Nelson is a Crossville Chronicle staffwriter. His column is published each Friday. He may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com.