9/11/01

It’s Tuesday. It was a Tuesday, eleven years ago, that I came downstairs for breakfast, in a hurry to get to work, and found my wife watching the news on TV. “Will, a plane hit one of the World Trade Center buildings.”

I didn’t get it. I thought it was a small plane, an accident, I wondered how a small plane had gotten into that airspace to begin with. It took a while for Jane to make it clear that the plane was a 747, and it was a while longer before I realized that it wasn’t an accident.

I think that the penny dropped as we watched the second plane hit the second tower. And then, as we watched and listened, the first tower collapsed.

It wasn’t an accident; it was a terrorist act, an attempt to scare us and break our wills, to break our country. It was deeply, deeply wrong.

So the lightning; now for the lightning bug.

In recent weeks (a phrase I could have written with equal justice at any time in the last ten years) I’ve seen scorn, bile, foul language, and vitriol in on-line forums and comment boxes. Much of it is directed at shutting down voices the commenter doesn’t like, not by reasoned argument, but by shouting and fear. It’s an attempt to scare the speaker, to break his will, to take him out of the dialog.

This isn’t the lightning; it’s only the lightning bug. It doesn’t kill people. Purveyors of combox hatred aren’t mass murderers. Still, the lightning bug does resemble the lightning in its own small way. And it, also, is deeply wrong.

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