The recent firing of Indiana official Jeffrey Cox after he tweeted that Wisconsin police should “use live ammunition” on labor protesters has brought to my attention something very interesting. Instead of fully owning up to the fact that this is what he meant when he tweeted this cacophony, he employed the excuse of satire, claiming that it was all in jest. He then went on to say that while he respects the First Amendment rights of the people, the people should respect the First Amendment rights of elected officials. As astute an observation as this sounds, I don’t think that what is at stake here is a dangerous double standard. When one is employed at a certain job they give up certain rights, as we all do. Perhaps it has to do with dress code or ethics conduct or a variety of other hyper-specific guidelines employees must follow. Are elected officials any different?
In Cox’s misguided attempt to cover his ass, he told an Indianapolis television station that he thinks “we’re getting down a slippery slope here in terms of silencing people who disagree,” and although he does have a point, who wouldn’t disagree with shooting at a crowd of people who are exercising their right to protest? In Mother Jones, he previously called protestors “thugs” who were “physically threatening legally-elected state legislators & governor [sic]” and followed that with a stentorian claim that he “damn right advocates” the use of violence against the protestors. I have made many a joke in my lifetime and rarely follow up with a “damn right.” You could almost imagine this person, sweat on his brow, bringing down a resounding fist to his desk that sent shivers down the spine of the goonies present.
What perhaps is most shocking is that he defends his words by saying that they were satire and admitted that it was probably a terrible idea given recent events abroad to incite armed violence against a group of people protesting. I don’t know about you, but when I hire/elect an official/public servant to the task at hand, I’m not doing it for the funny. Granted there are a few imbeciles who vote on incredibly superficial panoramas. I am not one of them. I don’t want to be able to drink a beer with you or need you to be approachable or “one of us.” I need you to be a competent, well-educated person who is serious about your job. I want you to sound like a professional person who embodies the level of government subscribed and not like some sheriff in a Spaghetti Western. Perhaps small cities and states are like that, but it takes an even smaller mind to buy into that absolute baloney.
This is not a call to crush those who disagree with you. In Cox’s words, he would likely have someone he disagrees with shot, but when his stupid tweet gets a critical response, he’s a martyr. This is the problem with American politicians today. I don’t want you to take sides. I don’t want you to pander to me in a condescending fashion or the way you think I would like to be addressed as revealed by a three-year-old general survey of people in the broadest of my demographics. I hired you so you would be a team player, and a team is only as strong as its weakest member. Frankly, there are a lot of you, and not a single one can resort to nothing more than heated rhetoric or elitist bragging. Heated rhetoric most likely had nothing to do with something like Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s assassination attempt, but it couldn’t have helped. The way governments are run in this country you’d think soap opera writers had written sagas of it during WGA strikes. There is nothing wrong with being critical of one’s country and the supposed values it holds because this is not tarnishing the name of America. This is what Americans are able to do, and to demand us to leave if we don’t like it is like arguing about spilled milk. You can blame whoever you want for as long as you want, but if it isn’t picked up or noticed, someone is going to fall.
I would like to add one last thing: Come on, Wisconsin! You either didn’t vote or got caught up in the sweeping persuasion led by the current GOP that has tainted what once was Abraham Lincoln’s party. There is no one to blame but yourselves for this mess. Of course Gov. Walker had a lot to do with it, but as hiring managers for America the company, subdivision Wisconsin, you guys totally missed the mark and Gov. Walker failed his drug test. You should have seen the signs coming but were impatient and now it will take that much longer for everything to be back to normal. None of these problems happened to us overnight, so how do you expect this supposed change to happen as fast?