Heckling, insulting, and bullying what we do not like: The way we do things in America

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune

By Maramis

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.

Imagine holding up a sign that reads “Hate is not normal” and then hating the person who was asked to be the keynote speaker at the event where protesters were allowed to “hate” the person right off the stage!
In Washington, D.C., acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin Mc Aleenan left an immigration policy conference at Georgetown University’s law school Monday after he was shouted off the stage by protesters. Mc Aleenan was billed as the event’s keynote speaker. But even as he was introduced, audience members not only rose and unfurled banners reading “Hate Is Not Normal,” but hurled all kinds of hate-filled comments at him, not allowing him to speak. After four or five tries, doing his best to at least get in some opening line that would hopefully allow him to deliver the talk he had prepared, he realized it was hopeless, and left the stage and all the unruly hecklers and bullies who were only there to insult, criticize and belittle him.
It’s kind of like the abortion protesters who think there’s nothing wrong with setting fire to the abortion clinics. Of course, they never really know if anyone is inside. They are just making their point, as are the “Hate is not normal” sign-holders. And some go even further, as in killing — or wanting to kill — the abortion doctors themselves.
We have to imagine that because of what those doctors choose to do, it makes it all right and just in the minds of the self-appointed executioners or would-be executioners. No sense for them to feel that they might be doing the same thing themselves in taking a life. They feel only self-righteous.
Can it be that those who see themselves as activists for making the world a better place do not and cannot see themselves as major contributors to the mess this country is in?
I remember when I was a little girl and was crying over something that my sister had done to me, and my father, for some strange reason, thought that he needed to give me a lesson — as though he knew what “fathering” was all about — and said to me, “I’ll give you something to cry about!”
Couldn’t he see how absolutely ridiculous that would sound to me? I already had something to cry about and he had no idea what that was.
It would have worked out so much better all around if he asked me to explain what I was crying about and asked my sister to explain her side, and then had the two of us get to see each other’s position and come to some kind of understanding between us. We had many more years of living together ahead of us and living in peace would’ve been a good lesson to learn.
So back to the sign proclaiming “Hate is not normal!” I would agree with that, if only it was meant in the truest of ways, not in the way that made it only work for the activists to get their way.
If one is invited to be the keynote speaker at some venue, and the majority of those in the audience don’t like the would-be speaker for any reason, the thing to do is to hear the speaker out, then take it up with the one who booked that speaker in the first place. If those sign-holders truly believed what they were proclaiming on their signs, and truly believed in free speech, they would have let Secretary Mc Aleenan speak, if only to have accurate fodder for their complaints about ever having him back again.
Sometimes it’s good to listen to those you don’t like or respect — for whatever reason — to better understand what it is you don’t like about them. I know of a case or two where speakers-to-be of some sort had “gone over to the other side” after getting their own “aha!” moment and the audience never had a chance to learn that from them because they were so filled with hatred toward those speakers. It reminds me of the hate in the hearts of those willing to lynch a person (actually or virtually) based on their own beliefs about that person, with no regard for the truth, which might take a little while to be uncovered.
Hate and impatience always seem to go together. As with the would-be lynchers, it’s always about doing it now, while their feelings are hot and heavy against their victim. And no hot-and-heavy hater could hold
back their words of hate for their own particular victim, allowing him or her to even make their point. We might not like what they have to say, but in this almost-free country, they can express that dislike by not applauding, by asking pertinent questions of the speaker (maybe to embarrass him), or by getting up and walking out, if the subject matter is that offensive.
Everything we do—at least in today’s world where there is media cover, if not just the media coverage of someone videoing the whole thing on their own cell phone and then turning it in to some TV station for the
world to see—is subject to be seen and scrutinized by hundreds of thousands of viewers (if not more). What kind of example are we setting for tomorrow’s adults? The people I am referring to are the children of today, who badly need to see the adults around them showing them how to act in various situations.
With October stressing the theme of anti-bullying, let us not forget that adults can also be bullies and the one being bullied. Can’t we rise above the horrible images of ourselves that we are showing our children?
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at maramis@lasvegastribune.com.

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