Nov/12/12//Cynthia Silva Parker//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Say What?

In the discussion of my post from last week about human connections across political divides, we were exploring the challenge of engaging with people whose views we do not share or even necessarily respect, without disrespecting the person or doing damage to relationships. This week, a young woman named Denise Helms gave me a real challenge.

(I’m not in relationship with her, but her comments trigger all sorts of reactions and disagreement.) On election night, she tweeted a complaint about the results, calling the President the “n” word and speculating (hoping?) that he might be assassinated in his second term. Her justification disturbed me at least as much as the initial tweet. In a follow up post, she wrote, “Apparently a lot of people in Sacramento think I’m crazy and racist. WOW is all I got to say!! I’m not racist and I’m not crazy. just simply stating my opinion.!!!” This is the kind of statement – that just “stating my opinion” in such an outrageous way couldn’t possibly be racist, and that she was perfectly entitled to do so without risking her standing as a reasonable person – that I find particularly difficult to hear calmly, without judgment, and without trying to educate, persuade and demonstrate the wrongness of the actions taken (speech, even in the form of a tweet, is action in my book). Some days I even whether it’s a virtue to try to hear it that way. What do you think?

Comments [4]////Permalink// Like [8]
  • Cynthia Silva Parker

    Therein lies the rub. We can’t tolerate certain things, and yet we need to act with compassion toward people who do them. Even your statement that many of us are wounded and so we wound is evidence of compassion. Life’s work, to be sure.

  • http://interactioninstitute.org/blog/ Gibran

    We don’t need to tolerate certain things.

    We do need to have compassion.

    Too many of us are terribly wounded.

    And so we wound.

  • Cynthia Silva Parker

    Thanks Charlie. Turns out she did risk her “reasonable person” status. She was fired after community outrage was poured out on her employer.

  • Charlie Jones

    I read about that tweet as well. I’d say all outrage directed towards this person is justified. It may not be in your nature to pass judgement – so I will do it for you: This person is bat-sh!t crazy AND racist despite any protestations to the contrary.