Ask Yourself: “Does This Make Me Look Like A Bigoted Jerk?”

Vermont’s official motto “Freedom and Unity” is easy to like, but a middle school student’s suggestion last month that the state also adopt a latin motto has brought out some ridiculous protests online. The latin motto “Stella quarta decima fulgeat”  is the suggestion of a middle school student and was introduced in a Senate bill.

The thread on the WCAX story page, reposted by Gawker.com in the story “Nativist Idiots Mistake Latin for Spanish, Totally Lose Their Shit” includes some particularly awful stuff.

“No, this is America, and our language has been English from the beginning. We don’t need to change now for a few.”

AND

“How do you say idiotic senator in Spanish? I’d settle for deport the illegals in spanish as a backup motto>”

I shared the Gawker.com link on my Facebook page and most of my friends had a great time laughing at the foolish posts and coming up with their own Latin mottos for our Fourteenth Star state. After the laugh-fest is over I can’t help but be concerned about how the knee-jerk posting and reposting of content reveals and amplifies messages of bigotry and ignorance that propagate too easily online.

Don’t these people stop to ask themselves, “Does this make me sound like a bigoted jerk?” I guess not.

At the same time this cute bill about a new state motto is getting criticized and the racist jerks are getting lampooned by my comrades, there is a much more important bill about online behavior under discussion in the Vermont House.

VTDigger’s story  covered Rep. Kesha Ram‘s bill,  H.105 that seeks to criminalize the act of revenge-posting nude photographs online by ex-lovers. With sexting  as a commonplace practice, it’s not suprising that this issue has had an impact on many young people, especially young women.

With the freedom of the internet, and the power to share ideas and content widely with ease, comes great responsibility. Are we ready to regulate the worst of this behavior by criminalizing revenge porn? I think so. Can we ever get the idiots to hesitate before pressing “post” on the WCAX comments page? Less likely, but a guy can hope.

UPDATE: Credit where credit is due: John Walters originally posted the motto story on the Vermont Political Observer. My bad for perpetuating an injustice.

About Mike McCarthy

I'm a guitar-playing Democrat living in Saint Albans, VT with my wife Steph and my daughter Molly. I represented Saint Albans in the VT House in 2013-2014. I care about good government, and a safe, healthier world for all of us. I work for an awesome solar company and love helping Vermonters re-power our communities.

8 thoughts on “Ask Yourself: “Does This Make Me Look Like A Bigoted Jerk?”

  1. act first and think later…or better still, don’t think at all; just move on to the next quip or clip.

    It must be a rough time to be very young.  My generation had the luxury of anonymity while we made our formative mistakes.

    And cruelty, misogyny and bigotry seem to thrive in the other kind of anonymity that is enabled by new media.

  2. Remember, those idiots are our neighbors, co-workers, maybe even our friends or relatives hiding behind the walls of their handles.  This is who and what so much of this country is.  They vote too.  

  3. Everyone has the Uncle they can’t talk politics with at Thanksgiving. Because the internet amplifies violent, misogynist and racist ideas so easily, it’s so important for us to set standards and self-police. One of the reasons I like well-moderated forums like GMD.

  4. A friend of mine was driving down to visit a relative in Florida and decided to sample some radio stations along the way. South of Pennsylvania it was almost all hard right wing talk radio, and it shook him.

    This is a guy who was the first white teacher in an all black school in central Florida in 1963 – the loneliest man in the state. It’s not as if he is naive.

    He said that the racism, the hatred, the venom, and the revolutionary zeal were only matched by the outright lies. There is a percentage of the population that thinks that a tsunami of dark skinned criminals is about to swallow them up.

    Oh, and, ROMANI ITE DOMUM! What have they ever done for us?

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