Perhaps when President Barack Obama, known for being divisive, left office, some held out hope for a more unified nation. Instead, there has been a ramping up of not only violent political rhetoric, but acts of violence, as well. Social media has been one place where that aggression has been seen surging. Take the example of a political disagreement on social media that resulted in a Florida man being shot.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, 44-year-old Brian Sebring — a registered Democrat — and Facebook friend Alex Stephens, 46, a convicted felon with no political registration, got into an online dispute last month involving politics. It ended with Sebring driving to Stephens’ home and shooting him.
“After receiving several explicit messages and threats, the defendant responded to the victim’s home to confront him (regarding) the messages,” according to a police report cited by the Tampa Bay Times. Sebring was arrested and told police that Stephens had threatened him, so he drove to his home in order to confront him.
However, Sebring took a Glock, in a waistband holster, and an AR-15 with him when he went to confront Stephens. After arriving at Stephen’s home, Sebring allegedly honked his truck horn and waited outside of the vehicle for Stephens. Stephens went outside and allegedly “charged at” Sebring. It was at this point that Sebring allegedly opened fire, hitting Stephens in the buttocks.
Despite Stephens fleeing and Sebring leaving the scene, police ultimately found and arrested Sebring for the shooting. He was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and carrying a concealed firearm. His bail was set at $9,500.
“I’m not a bad guy,” Sebring said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times a few days after the incident. “But I mean, this guy threatened to hurt my family, and I went off the deep end. I wasn’t thinking right. You know, after this I’m going to go see a therapist or something, man, because that’s some scary s—, that I could lose my temper like that and do something so stupid.”
The exact topic of the men’s dispute is not known, other than it had to do with politics. What we do know is that in the current political climate, violent rhetoric and violent acts are on the rise. And that makes it even more fool-hardy for anyone to make threats.
What we also know is that, overall, the violence is being perpetrated more heavily in one direction. And those violent threats and acts are leaning heavily against those on the right.
Breitbart has reported that instances of “violence against the right” are increasing as media outlets “amp up hate-rhetoric against Trump.” In July, Breitbart began documenting “acts of media-approved violence and harassment against Trump supporters.” The running total is now up to 564.
In mid-July, The Gateway Pundit noted that Breitbart’s running total at that time was just over 300. This means that in approximately two month’s time, the number has almost doubled. And more reports of violence continue to pour in.
It has long-since gone beyond an increase in violent threats on social media to actual attacks in real life.
Meanwhile, few on the left have said anything to discourage such behavior. Some, such as Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, have been blamed for amping up the hate and violence.
Some believe the incitement is intentional, with the ultimate goal being that of a civil war. Others point to mental disorders on a mass scale, with such tags as “liberalism” and “Trump Derangement Syndrome.”
While such labels are sometimes used in jest, the injuries sustained by victims of the violence is no laughing matter. Something needs to be done and it needs to include Democratic leadership and media taking responsibility.
Violent rhetoric and violent acts against political opponents are not OK. This should be something both sides of the political aisle can agree upon and commit to fighting against. What actually happens, as reports continue to pour in and public outrage continues to grow, is yet to be seen.
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