Yesterday, around 12:35 p.m., the FBI arrested a 21-year-old man from Idaho who allegedly fired a gun at the White House. In response to this troubling news item, the president of a campus’ College Republicans organization, Lauren E. Pierce, tweeted that the idea of shooting the Commander in Chief was “tempting.”
Y’all as tempting as it may be, don’t shoot Obama. We need him to go down in history as the WORST president we’ve EVER had! #2012.
When her comment incited a fury of disparaging responses on Twitter, ABC News picked up on Lauren’s tweet, augmenting her small, poorly-timed comment into a national news story. And, to my horror, I discovered that Pierce and I attended the same school: The University of Texas.
My campus, let alone the state of Texas, is no stranger to controversial discourse on firearms, and it certainly does not need any more negative attention spurred from the leader of one of our political organizations. But with a single tweet, Pierce put the entire University under the microscope once more.
Pierce claimed it was just a “joke,” which is obvious, as is her lack of a sense of humor. But instead of apologizing, Cassie Wright, the group's vice president, insisted to ABC News, “I don’t really see anything wrong with it… it’s just a personal comment, not representative of any group. Freedom of speech, you know?”
Obviously, if she is making this statement to ABC News, Wright is already wrong. Mentioning the University of Texas and an assassination attempt towards the President of the United States in the same article is about as disparaging to this university’s reputation as you can get, and the readers' comments only prove this embarrassing reality:
POSTED BY: MYTAKEONTHIS61 | NOVEMBER 16, 2011, 4:07 PM 4:07 PM
This is what they teach them in college? to hate?
POSTED BY: BARB | NOVEMBER 16, 2011, 4:37 PM 4:37 PM
Stupid starts early in Texas.
POSTED BY: BAJACALLA | NOVEMBER 16, 2011, 5:00 PM 5:00 PM
It was stupid to say. Damn longhorns.
Needless to say, Lauren E. Pierce quickly made her Twitter account (@laurenpierce) private. Sure, it’s easy to say ABC News spun the story to fabricate controversy, sandwiching Pierce and Wright’s comments between details of the 21-year-old Idaho man’s assassination attempt. But the damage has already been done. There is clearly a greater lesson to be learned about the way my generation engages in political discourse—and the resultant unwillingness to accept responsibility for any damage caused.
Twitter has been empowering to democracy all over the globe, but here, it is crippling our progression as an educated young society. I see it firsthand: social media gives American youth a fast track to smack-talking, and with the incentive of “likes” and retweets, practically rewards them with points for ramping up the offensiveness. But in the process, we not only shred our credibility, but we suffocate any possibility of a more intelligent discourse, one that could actually educate people.
If Lauren E. Pierce is to be made an example of, I pray that it is not of another Republican senselessly suggesting gun violence. If anything, we need an example of the scope of responsibility. Pierce didn’t just speak for herself; she spoke for Republicans, for U.T., and for the state of Texas—whether or not she meant to, and whether or not we even asked for it.