Are we letting a few jerks spoil everything?

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By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

Unless you’ve drunk so much Kool-Aid that you’ve wet your pants, you know Donald J. Trump is a jerk. Based on polling, a few of you might even see that a plus, but most of us do not.

He’s mean-spirited, cruel, self-obsessed and not particularly bright.

And aside from the fact that this person was President and leads one of our two political parties, that normally wouldn’t be a problem. Trump has been a jerk for decades without having a widespread impact, even when hosting a TV show.

Until 2016, the 1 in 10 of us who were insufferable jerks usually did their best to hide it, fearing shunning and condemnation. Yes, there were always jerks – the guy in the restaurant yelling at the waitstaff, the woman in the supermarket blocking an aisle, oblivious to others and so on, but they were generally few and far between in their acting out.

Now, it feels like they’re everywhere — you see the literal insanity on our roads (and resulting spike in traffic deaths), the people who talk through movies and get huffy when you suggest they be quieter, to minor arguments turning into fatal events when someone shoots someone else. When you hear about pastors saying parishioners find Jesus “too woke” you know something strange is going on.

And you should see the “love notes” we get — most are barely intelligible screeds of seemingly uncontrolled anger because me or one of my writers hold an opinion with which they disagree. For the record — we always welcome thoughtful, intelligent criticism (and always publish them when they come in) because like everyone else, our opinions aren’t always right. But some of these people claim we shouldn’t be allowed to express our opinions at all — which is a pretty anti-American stance to take. Honestly, such things just make us want to write more, not less.

Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of American life — and instead of a counter argument, we get threats, angry invective and ad hominem attacks. Even as I write, I’m told there are efforts in the Oxford Area School District to ban books — not because they are obscene but because a few people disagree with their subject matter, despite all of these books being vetted by education experts.

Now, again, this is nothing like a majority of people here. Most folks in Chester County are moderate, highly-educated and nice, community oriented people. But while most folks go about their business, a few angry voices make the most noise.

It used to be that when people acted like an over sugared toddler in public, they’d be shunned by the larger community. But now, we’re seeing a permission structure for people to act like uncivilized thugs.

We used to be better than that.

We used to value compassion.

We used to value kindness.

We used to value tolerance.

I think the vast majority of us still do.

But now there are so many more loud, angry voices embracing hate. Hate against people of different religions, different skin colors, different political outlooks and yes, even different genders (in this case, I speak of men who disparage women and their rights to self-determination as equals in our society).

Don’t get me wrong: I think everyone is entitled to their opinions. But this explosion of hate is a cancer on our society.

We are better than that.


Speaking of hatred, we’re told about a woman — who refused to identify herself — who barged into local businesses in Valley Township a couple of weeks back demanding that these businesses oppose a proposed shelter for the homeless.

Wrongly — at a time when homelessness is increasing in the county, in part because of shrinking affordable housing — this woman claims every one of these homeless people are drug addicts or sex offenders with zero evidence, just hatred.

She doesn’t consider the person bankrupted by a medical emergency, or someone who lost their job and home due to the pandemic. There are a decent percentage of people in this county who are one financial disaster from being homeless. We’ve seen homelessness grow year over year in the county by 8%. It’s a real issue and anything that helps these folks seems like a positive for the community at large.

Instead of compassion — or making helpful suggestions to improve the proposal to make it work better for the community as a whole — we see hateful descriptions of people, most of whom are just trying to get by.

Aside from really needing to focus on affordable housing and child care — two issues really hurting a major segment of our local population (and by extension, the local businesses that can’t find good employees in part because of these issues) — can’t we reach back and find some level of kindness, some level of compassion for our fellow man? Without a lot of good fortune — and the support of the greater community — who is to say that any number of us might find ourselves homeless, hungry and without hope.

“There, but by the grace of God…”

We are better people than that.

We are a better community than that.

I know we can show that by drowning out the voices of hate with love, support and compassion.

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  1. Tom Hartline says:

    After posting a comment that was ignored, I switched to CNN and there was a headline about DeSantis, if he was president, would send special forces to Mexico to wipe out drug cartels. Kind of proves my point in the other comment.

    • Mike McGann says:

      Sorry for the delay in approvals — due to previous abuses by some posters, we manually approve all comments. As we don’t have someone here to that 24/7, there can be a delay.

  2. Tom Hartline says:

    Sometimes I ask people if they know the name of their representative. Even those who I consider to be informed and involved do not know or maybe take a few moments to remember.

    I will bet that the people who live in districts represented by Jordan, Greene and Gaetz know. Why? Because they say crazy things that are reported and I blame the press for this.

    If there is a person on the street explaining a new health care system and on the other side someone is saying he will build a wall and Mexico will pay for it, who gets the coverage on the 6 O’clock news.

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