Spark debate, not ignorance

By Brianna Wellen

For many students, college is a time to explore political inclinations and have healthy debates with other students regarding issues facing our country. This time of exploration will inevitably elicit naïve and ignorant comments from young political enthusiasts who, it is hoped, will research and learn from their mistakes in order to strengthen their argument in the future. It’s surprising, then, that the top student leader of the College Republicans at the University of Texas would fall into the ignorant category.

Lauren Pierce, president of the group, responded to a man firing a semi-automatic weapon at the White House by tweeting, “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 ABC News picked up the tweet and ran a story about it, Pierce responded by giggling and calling it a slow news day. She brushed the whole thing off as a joke without taking into consideration some of the serious implications of what she said.

Even though I’m all for free speech, it’s never a “joke,” to publicly support the assassination of the leader of the free world, whether you agree with his policies or not. This is along the lines of saying you have a bomb in an airport or yelling, “Fire!” in a crowded theater. For someone who should be well-versed in the realm of politics, she should have used the incident and social media to spark intelligent debate, not succumb to a generalized overdramatic statement regarding Obama.

Twitter, when used correctly, can be a tool that connects people from all around the world with different backgrounds and opinions. Abusing this communication tool by spouting out the first thoughts that come to mind is what has created animosity toward the social media tool, especially when supposedly intelligent people representing a larger group are the culprits.

Pierce eventually took down her tweet and issued an apology stating, “I apologize for my previous tweet. It was in poor taste and should never have been written.” This admission shows how, in retrospect, even she realized what a bad move it was. Others in Pierce’s group backed her up by saying everyone has a right to his or her opinion, and that the tweet in no way represented the thoughts of the group as a whole. However, when you’re the leader of a group, your opinions and comments are associated with the group as a whole, whether you meant for that to be true or not.

Pierce’s statement may now be associated with college Republicans across the country, even those who don’t agree with her and are able to make their own intelligent arguments against Obama. Others should learn from her mistake to instead stir up intellectual political debates and not abuse social media. Those are the actions that will incite political change—not Obama assassination jokes.