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.