Racist tweets

By James Hearne

Editor’s Note:  

We have decided to run in this opinion piece quotations from Twitter posts which contain offensive and racist language.  The editorial staff was faced with the question of whether it was appropriate for the student newspaper to repeat this language and potentially perpetuate its use.  The decision was made to write the posts as they occurred in order to show their full impact.

By James Hearne


After all the hand wringing and sobbing of this past presidential campaign, I was about ready to put the whole thing behind me. I think “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” summed up my feelings with the title of their election night coverage: “Election Night 2012: This Ends Now!” The viral video with the little girl crying about how she didn’t want to hear any more about Mitt Romney or “Bronco Bama” spoke to me and to a lot of other people.

Yes, I was happy that “my guy” won, but I was even more pleased to know what exactly that meant. The policies that, I felt, were to the benefit of everyone in America now had a better chance of being put into law. I hoped that people who had voted for Romney, as angry and disappointed as they were, would respect the democratic process and acknowledge that with  a political process that is as free as ours is supposed to be, the old canard of “you win some, you lose some” will always apply. Yes, many people, including friends and family of mine were disappointed, but maybe we could put those behind us and look upon one another not as Democrats or Republicans (or members of the Green Party, or Libertarians), but as Americans and as people. Was I hoping this would happen? Yes.

Did this happen? Would I be writing this if it had?

Soon after all the major networks called the election for Obama, some who disapproved started vomiting every ill-considered, racist and just downright horrifying thought that crossed their minds. Blogs, comments on websites, Facebook profiles all had people registering their displeasure with the outcome of the election. And, as might be expected, none more so than Twitter.

Now, many of these were people who were generally upset with Obama’s policies or his administration in general, which is fine. Leaving aside the First Amendment, for the most part, I have no problems with people expressing a divergent point of view (even if the view is somewhat divorced from reality). And some of them are just funny, like Donald Trump’s call for revolution.

But then they come. You know who I mean. People like this: “Fucking Nigger won again.” tweeted user moriahrae1, a young woman who, according to her twitter information is a star athlete at her high school.

“Obama is IGNORANT, hence why I called him a nigger..[sic] now just because I said the word nigger means I’m racist?” Pondered user screachhhh. Hey, champ? It’s not that you used the word at all. If that were the case, my quoting this garbage would be racist. No, it’s the fact that you applied it to a person of color, trying to denigrate him by using a racial slur. (All of these were from a Jezebel.com post.)

The question I keep asking myself, however, is “why?” Not why do people say these things, for language and rhetoric such as this has always been with us and will be with us, regrettably, as long as humans have these things in their hearts; that is to say, a long time to come. But why do I have such a macabre fascination with reading these sorts of things, things which I find repellent? Seriously, what is my problem? I can’t figure it out for the life of me.

What is wrong with me?

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