A high school shooting in Florida that claimed 17 people has brought out the best in some Americans - and the worst in many others.
Shortly after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High school, a photo popped up on Twitter (see photo at right) of father Andrew Pollack holding his phone with a picture of 18-year-old daughter Meadow. He was looking for her and asking for help, he said, only to learn later that she was among the victims of the troubled 19-year-old shooter.
Instead of an outpouring of sympathy for the devastated father, Twitter lit up with vile hatred for the man. Why? Because he was wearing a pro-Trump t-shirt.
"We've lost the ability to have reasoned, public discourse now," clinical psychologist Dr. Joseph Guthrie tells OneNewsNow. "It's all very high emotive and just a complete intolerance for alternative viewpoints."
Responses to the grieving, Trump-supporting father included "I don't feel sorry for him" and much worse, all seemingly triggered by the t-shirt.
Guthrie says humans are "hard-wired" to respond to events that put ourselves or our loved ones in danger.
"And somehow we've gotten to the point," he observes, "where things that aren't immediately dangerous we have that same visceral, vehement, angry reaction."
Political discourse in America was not intended to be a blood sport, Guthrie says, and it's the spirit of polite disagreement, he says, that makes us different from Third World dictatorships and totalitarian regimes.
"Public discourse was so important in the founding of our country," he says, "and that was a very reasonable, very heated public discourse."
The 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords prompted a well-read column by National Review writer Jonah Goldberg over the left-wing hatred spewing from the national media and their Democratic allies. He pointed out how the media blamed Sarah Palin and the tea party for the shooting and even described the tea party as "hostage takers," "terrorists," and "traitors."
"And yet you know the next time there’s the slightest, remotely exploitable tragedy or hint of violence," Goldberg wrote at the time, " the same reporters, editors, producers, and politicians are going to insist that blood was spilled because of the right wing’s rhetoric."
The Daily Wire and other conservative news outlets reported in 2016 how New York City's annual gay pride parade responded to the Pulse nightclub shooting - with a banner proclaiming "Republican Hate Kills" even though a Democrat-supporting Muslim had gunned down nearly 50 people.
In more recent memory, the attempted mass murder of Republican lawmakers on a Virginia baseball field brought out the true feelings of some. CBS anchor Scott Pelley suggested the attack that nearly killed Rep. Steve Scalise (pictured above) was "self-inflicted," and MSNBC personality Joe Reid asked if Scalise deserved sympathy due to his voting record.
Asked what is the prescription for a country torn apart by political hatred, Guthrie says the average American once believe in God, family, country, then self – in that order. Now, he says, that order has been flipped on its head.