I Wish You Were a Bot—and Not a Hateful Human Being

I came across your Tweet today; the one about these “arrogant snot teenagers” protesting gun violence—how they “stomp, pout, and cry when everything doesn’t go their way.” 

I saw you dismiss these young people, by referring to them all as “laundry detergent pod-eaters.”

I shook my head and thought to myself, “These friggin’ bots are out of control.”

Then I looked more closely, and my stomach turned because I realized it was far worse than that.

I realized you’re an actual person.

You’re a supposed human adult; a professed “proud Christian” who raises children and votes and goes to church and drives past me every day.

You’re a 45-year old American man who manages a business and coaches a middle school baseball team.

That grieves me more than anything, because that I can’t fathom.

It was bad enough when I believed you were a Russian programmer, or some insidious computer application designed to generate filth and incite argument and boost racist signals. Then, at least it made some sense.

I could understand something not human targeting specific teenagers who are honoring their dead friends, or using racial slurs when talking about Barack Obama, or characterizing immigrants as terrorists and criminals and rapists.
I can make sense of a non-feeling bot spewing out whatever anti-Semitic, violent, racist nonsense it is programmed to, in order to cause division and discourage activists.
I can deal with a heartless machine, generating stereotypes of Muslims, vile profanity about gay couples, and gun-toting taunts to grieving parents.

As bad as that is, it’s at least something I can wrap my mind around.

But this is an altogether different kind of nightmare; to realize you’re not a machine or a bot or some foreign employee randomly generating enmity—just a human being who is that devoid of decency, empathy, and compassion.

To know that this kind of bitterness, rage, and contempt are stored up inside actual breathing flesh-and-blood men and women living alongside me here, is frankly horrifying.

It shows me how far we’ve drifted, how sick we’ve become, how fractured we are; that we’re producing human beings capable of such inhumanity.

And this is a source of profound grief. 

How I wish you were a bot, sir—instead of a bitter, hateful Christian telling people that God is white and male and American and gun loving.

I wish you were a bot, instead of a father of young girls, telling other young girls that their sexual assaults are their fault because of the way they dress or the alcohol they’ve consumed.

I wish you were a bot, instead of a mother of four mocking the former First Lady with staggering racist rhetoric.

I wish you were a bot; not the child of immigrants taunting brown-skinned visitors with walls and ICE raids and orders to “go back where they came from.”

I wish you were a bot; not a supposed adult man with such contempt for brave, compassionate, already traumatized teenagers trying to keep more teenagers from dying.

I wish you were a bot—instead of a former friend or a sitting President or my next door neighbor or a respected pastor or a high school teacher or a beloved aunt or a Georgia politician—because if you were the former, I could rationalize away that kind of contempt for people, and simply delete you and move on.

Now I have to figure out how to live alongside you without losing my humanity, too.

How I wish you were a bot; then your heartlessness and hatred would make sense.

But you’re not, and so this doesn’t.

I’m not sure what to do with that information—except to grieve it.






39 thoughts on “I Wish You Were a Bot—and Not a Hateful Human Being

  1. Mr. Pavlovitz,
    Thank you for continuing to chip away at the hardened hearts, your sentiments are supported here.

  2. I think the worst thing in a society is when , the children run the show and those in the office or position of responsibility are not held accountable for thier every thought, action or deeds
    When children are not held accountable for v iolance or acts of violance this is when the society degrades and heads down.
    A Nation with out Godly principle s and governed by God or Accountable to a Higher power .
    That is when the children rise up , thinking they know what is best and given the voice of the adults , since the adults put them up to it.
    and dont want to take responsibility for thier actions, statements, deeds
    When this past months events took place you and i see the unaccountable parents sending thier children to do the work of adults since the adults cant take responsibility for thier actions , how can you expect the children to do any better .

    Take responsibility for your self.
    Ask for Forgiveness, Say Im sorry , Admit Wrong, Turn the other cheek and let someone ahead of you , get more than you , have a little of what you have, and do what you are able to do.
    Jesus Christ does Not make robots and Phones turn people into robots , Tweets give way to unsympathy words that hurt and take away from truth.
    Speak the Truth in love seasoned with Gods Truth, Jesus Died for all and all do not recieve Him.
    Unless a man, woman, person would repent , turn from sin, turn to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of His or Her sin , there wont be change .
    Example s are followed , and We must 1st change , then the children will change .
    And Hold the Children Accountable for thier actions and words , show all why they tooo must be the same.

    • Wow, you are SOOOOO off-base, and, part of the problem. This has nothing to do with Jesus Christ!!!! People hiding behind that name are spreading some of the worst hatred. We do not need “godly principles.” We need morals and empathy, which actually have NOTHING to do with religion.

    • I might be misunderstanding the intent of your remarks, but you seem to suggest the students are mere puppets of the adults in their lives? That the students should be respectful “Godly children” and be seen but not heard? That the students are being ungodly for speaking their mind on the issue that most personally concerns them?

  3. i have some friends that are so angry that people want to make changes, any changes to gun control laws. and they feel their kids are safe, and they care a gun in their purse or somewhere. how do they think if someone opens fire with a death machine like an assault weapon their purse gun makes them safe? wht if they are shot first? it is an illusion. and then they add god and the constitution. they are so angry. but not at all angry about 17 more dead school children. why is that?

  4. Thank you for this. You so often echo my own thoughts, but with more eloquence. It’s comforting.

    I would like to humbly suggest one quick grammar edit you may want to make for the sake of clarity. This sentence: “I could understand something not human targeting specific teenagers who are honoring their dead friends, or using racial slurs when talking about Barack Obama, or characterizing immigrants as terrorists and criminals and rapists.”

    As it is written, the acts that come after the “or”s are technically being attributed to the most recently mentioned noun–which in this case is the teenagers, not the misguided adults. So the paragraph is saying the kids are committing all three acts: honoring dead friends, using racial slurs, and calling immigrants criminals and racists. So you may choose to tweak that.

    Again, though, I am so thankful for your brave, encouraging, SANE writing. Thank you for serving in this way.

  5. Please point out to me where in the Gospels Jesus advises us to reduce people into things, a category? Kids mourning their dead are called “arrogant snot teenagers” and their grief minimized as people who “stomp, pout, and cry when everything doesn’t go their way” as if this is true of grieving people.

    When did people who are unhomed become categorized as “the homeless” or undocumented people looking for a better life for themselves and their families become “illegals?” When did we start to refer to people as if they were adjectives?

    Where does Jesus tell us to do this, I ask again?

    He never does, does he? Be honest, now, He doesn’t. What He tells is is to love our neighbors as ourselves as God first loved us which is the opposite of categorizing and reducing to an adjective.

    I know why some people reduce others into categories and adjectives: shame. If you are one who said this about the students of Parkland, our homeless population, or our undocumented workers it is because you hate the feeling of shame you have. This shame you experience is the Holy Spirit convicting you as much as She convicted the rich, young man whom Jesus loved and yet that young man loved his wealth more than Jesus and so would not sell it, give the proceeds to the poor and follow Jesus.

    Here’s the thing. Jesus didn’t only give that answer to the rich, young man. He tells that to all of us. It’s still applicable and if you are not parting with your cushy lifestye so that others might simply live, you are exactly like the rich, young man and you are apostate.

    Over in a Facebook group, Celebrate What Christians Have in Common, we read selections from as many flavors and voices of Christianity as there are. Might even be some guest appearances from other voices who also believe in the same God, albeit not in a Trinitarian format. Join us and hear the voice of Jesus anew.


    • Suggestion:
      “the homeless” is not the same as “homeless people”
      “the poor” is not the same as “poor people”
      “the elderly” is not the same as “elderly people”

  6. You have such a powerful way of writing and expressing what all of us are feeling.
    Thank you so much John, for the work you do and how much you put into it. If only, eyes could be open and the deaf could hear again!

  7. I’m glad you brought this up. I’m glad you’re paying attention. Personally I can’t stand too much of this s***!! I’m thankful that you are still. I check in with you every once in awhile to see where you’re at. Lately I’ve been concerned about my mental health in ways I never thought I would need to. My capacity for tolerating the inhumanity of my neighbor is growing short!! I can turn these things over to God and ask that I can be a channel for the healing of a very wounded and Confused individual who has turned Rogue and Rancid!! I got a good hit Lately from Brother Nietzsche about this:
    “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

  8. As usual you have hit the nail on the head. This hatred and judgement that comes from professed Christians is beyond my understanding. I suspect it is beyond God’s also. Thank you for speaking the truth no matter how ugly. It needs to have light shone on it or it will never change. Peace and Love,

  9. So beautiful. I love every word of your work. I have chosen to believe (because it keeps me sane) that these bots and trolls have been at work for much longer than we knew. Grooming and radicalising those people who have not got the strongest critical thinking skills. Those people who can be targeted in their primal brains, who react to fear and threat. I’m going to choose to think of them as weak and manipulated because I can’t stand the alternative to that. That it’s them, that’s it how they truly feel.

  10. It’s really sad. It’s more than sad. It’s despicable. I’m not sure how to construct this but I’m thinking about the people who really care about other people. Who want to make sure our democracy makes our country safe for all people. Not just for, excuse me, Aryan type people. When I see posts on Facebook or responses here from people who just seem like cold, uncaring and just plane mean people it breaks my heart. People that seemed pissed off at the world. People who seem to look for people who exhibit signs of having compassion and want to try and nip it in the bud. I realize also there are “bots” out there but like you I’ve seen remarks, comments and/or posts by actual people. Some that I know very personally. Some who actually are family. Since 2016 and in particular November 8th or 9th I have cried, screamed, cursed, thrown things. I’ve unfriended a multitude of “friends” and people I thought I knew have unfriended me. I’ve tried to turn it around. I’ve signed petition after petition, I’ve shared, I’ve tried to talk sense into some – but that one is pointless. I do whatever I can to help but I’m still so shocked that there are such mean nasty people. Especially who apparently don’t like the idea of young people protesting and going after the government, representatives & corporations. Hell, these kids are so much more politically and technologically savvy than my generation (baby boomer)was. I don’t know. I hope we can put stuff back together and make it work for everyone!

  11. Hi everyone. I too was appalled at the so-called “adults” who were saying such awful things about the teenagers who survived the shooting in Parkland, Florida—and dared to speak up and speak the truth about it.

    I guess some adults just come unglued when they realize that the generation that comes after them does not share in their “conservative values.” All too often, the people who express such snide remarks to these children (and others) are old people with one foot in the grave—old people who understand that all that they have stood for in their generation is dying off and dying out—and that the younger generations to come will be very different from them. However, as an anthropologist, I think this happens with all human generations that have one foot in the grave—dying with the knowledge that much that they have built in their generation will not last. Read Ecclesiastes. You should have known this all along and been at peace because God told you this was going to happen—because all is vanity.

    It is just too bad that these people who are slamming the children will not be able to live in the new American world created by these coming younger generations. Figuratively speaking, it would be fun to see them hung from a tree upside down and twisting in the winds off all the coming cultural, social, and religious change blowing across their bodies. Yep. Twisting in the wind!!! I just regret that I will never live to see the last Christian fundamentalist left on the Earth mouth the three most famous words in all of Fundieland:

    “All is Losht.”

    No. That was not a typo. That “sh”sound is actually in there when they say it—usually the fundie women folk—like that old country song where she sings “Shake it loosh and let it fall.”

    Gun violence? “The answer my friend…is twisting in the wind. The answer is twisting in the wind.”

    You may read my most recent personal take on school shootings and related matters at the following safe link:


    And remember: “The answer is twisting in the wind!!!”

  12. The Internet makes it easy to hate. Safe behind the computer screen, protected from immediate consequences, the hate-filled lash out at fantasy constructs. They have to bite their tongues all day long, so they go home and rip into those who differ from them. They’re afraid, and this makes them feel brave.

    I predict that there will be a number of comments defending the hate with manipulated figures and outright lies; several ‘whataboutists’ — and at least one idiot blathering about abortion.

  13. Wow…what a great article. It hit home in so many places in our lives. I have always been empathetic no matter what the situation. I look for reasons how humans could be so ‘mean’ to others but this is beyond the boundary of anywhere near acceptable for ANY human being. Disgusting doesn’t begin to describe what this “animal” said and did ~ period!

    • Prayer isn’t going to do a thing. We need ACTION, and never letting up on those who are perpetrating hatred, racism, and lies. Has God done one THING about this situation? No. It was caused by humans, and humans are the only ones who can change it. Hiding behind God and prayer is a total cop-out.

  14. I’m with you in that grief.

    I recently had the experience of sitting across from a pastor, who with a straight face tried to minimize the stories I was sharing of sexual assault and rape with “You know, the current environment, like the false allegations against President Trump, Roy Moore, the mainstream media….”

    It took everything within me to stay on mission and not confront that attitude, right then and there.

    But I was horrified to realize that a so-called shepherd, one responsible for counseling and consoling, could so flippantly dismiss painful truths with talking points he picked up from Fox News.

  15. Thank you for clearly expressing the sadness and sorry that I feel, knowing that these are supposed human beings are devoid of any type of feeling, empathy, sympathy and are incapable of seeing anything or anyone other than themselves. It breaks my heart and hurts my mind.

  16. Why does this man have access to children? I would hope all the parents of the team he coaches sees his words. His words make him look like a child, not the adult.

    What we have seen on these pages is so called conservative Christians howl at the moon at all the indignities of life. Yet they got their President and their Supreme Court Justice, The Republican Congress has made rich people richer and again punched down to those with the least power and the least wealth. They have once again given their “shit happens” shrug to another mass shooting. Yet, every day they come here to show their vile attacks and anger.

    Could it be that the veil of moral superiority has been ripped from their heads and they are seeing what they have wrought? They have put a family of grifters into the White House. They have brought constant chaos to our country. They have brought moral decline. They have made us a laughing stock to the world. Puten just gave Trump the finger and “crickets” from Trump. The NRA, once actually run by good guys with guns, has now become a place where their spokespeople can only scream vile rhetoric like crazed loons.

    It just boggles the mind that Trump cannot even lift a finger to protect our election systems. Something is very, very wrong.

    Those children in Florida are our future. They have behaved so admirably and yet have been criticized, threatened and been the subject of conspiracy theories. Where is all this madness coming from? I cannot wrap my head around the awfulness of so many.

  17. Just read “A Bigger table”. Right on Bro. Hope to see you later this year near Syracuse, NY. I have similar story – went to a catholic seminary in CT – LaSallett – got kicked out for having women in the dorm. Often tell people Good thing I’m not a priest as I have big mouth and couldn’t keep secret after having heard a confession. I was in Air Force over 20 years – worked at Post Office as Clerk, drove over the road trucking (I have the vernacular as well) and now attend R.I.T Osher college courses (have a BS in Socio-cultural Anthropology from Empire State University). Been married 3 times (This one I have now is a keeper), and hate myself for hating Trump and the rethuglicans. (not Christianlike). Do not think there is any wisdom in having guns so rampid, think Health Care should be a right before guns, Think the Russians have taken control of this country already to some degree and am fascinated with conservatives having cognitive dissonance to the point they are really really ignorant (and like it that way).

  18. An answer to my prayer.
    I live each day with all this bottled up and boiling.

    I can’t believe what some so-called human beings are doing and believing
    in. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
    I think and ponder and pray sometimes too.
    It doesn’t remove
    the blot that covers and removes a little part of my soul each day.
    God is Love,
    but not the kind that I have seen being proclaimed lately.
    Thank you John, you brought back a little Hope.
    Maybe shared it will be the light that grows and cures our world.

  19. By writing a whole essay about this hateful human being, JP gives attention and credit to it. [Why give ‘tweets’ any consideration at all?]

    Everyone already knows there are plenty of jerks in this World. Putting his mind, and our minds on it, is depressing and destructive. And promulgates more of the same. It drags us down to spew how much we hate haters.

    [ It’s also the ‘easy man’s way out.’ ] How hard is it to find fault? Not very.

    Let’s do the hard thing. In today’s vicious world, we need positive influences, inspiration, and supportive communication that points to higher aims & goals. What encouragement can we give ea other you re positive things in the World, or positive role models? All these things are within easy reach for Believers, they are as close as our bibles.

    “My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.” ps34.2.

  20. The news cycle has shifted now, and I can already hear people forgetting what happened in Parkland, Florida. It is being replaced by the subject of “Trump’s Chaotic White House. Is Falling Apart.” Not to fear though, I feel certain that another school shooting is just around the next turn in the road. If it has to happen (which we all hope it will not), it would be best for it to coincide with the national school walkout and march on March 24, 2018.

    Let us ALL try not to forget Parkland this time like we all did Sandy Hook. Eventually, everything comes to an end—let’s make Parkland the last. It is all up to you and me. Let’s not drop the ball this time to where school shootings look normal and forgettable.

  21. “To know that this kind of bitterness, rage, and contempt are stored up inside actual breathing flesh-and-blood men and women living alongside me here, is frankly horrifying.”

    This is what many of us face everyday. There is no escape from it. It is in our offices, our schools, on our radios, on our TV, on our Facebook, and even with our friends. Hatred, fear, and ignorance run rampant, now immune to the words of Jesus.

    When many atheists are better Christians than the self proclaimed Christians, when children act like leaders and leaders act like children, when truly gentle people are denounced and the mean people are lauded, we are indeed inhorrible trouble.

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