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No one should tolerate racial slurs, actions

How many of us endured cringe-worthy conversations over Thanksgiving dinner in which it became clear that one or two family members or friends had gone all-in on the idea that racist and otherwise hateful language and behavior is no longer something they must hide? Certainly, a crop of politicians has worked hard over the past several years to ensure those folks believe there should be no social consequences for that garbage. The results have been horrific, even deadly.

Early last week, a 20-year-old Ohio man walked into a Walmart near Dayton and shot four people before taking his own life. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said his actions might have been partially inspired by racially motivated violent extremist ideology.

Among the evidence collected were journal writings, two Nazi flags and “the SS history book.” The inspiration for those items got his start with “political speech,” too.

Also this month, in Pickaway County, Scioto Township Trustee Barton Fannin was speaking during a public meeting in which trustees were discussing granting Juneteenth as a holiday for firefighters in their new contract. The public meeting was being recorded.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Fannin said, “I did not realize that that was a frickin’ federal holiday.” Another trustee then asked, “You know what it means though, right?”

Fannin responded using a racial slur.

Only one person in the room yelled “Whoa!” while everyone else just nervously laughed, according to the Dispatch’s report.

It was only a bit later that it seems to have occurred to Fannin that he should be worried about the recording and asked that the device be turned off.

Nervous laughter does not tell a person that what they said is unacceptable.

And for far too long many of the rest of us have just been tolerating — nervously laughing at — those who can’t let go of socio-cultural norms that are centuries old.

A racial slur casually dropped during a public meeting is a far cry from a shooting in a crowded store, of course. But too much of one can lead to the other. It is time responsible voters do more than nervously laugh and tolerate the kinds of politicians who are stoking these fires — large and small.

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