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Richard Marx, Rand Paul and a Call to Civil Discourse

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Should public figures follow certain rules of civil discourse? People are up in arms after the 80s pop-rock singer-songwriter Richard Marx tweeted about Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) on Sunday: “If I ever meet Rand Paul’s neighbor I’m going to hug him and buy him as many drinks as he can consume.” It sounds innocuous, but the neighbor in question attacked Paul in 2017. The day after Marx’s tweet, the FBI and Capitol police opened an investigation into a suspicious package containing white powder that was delivered to the home of Paul, as reported by Politico. People are calling out Marx, claiming he’s inciting and glorifying violence, which should be addressed no matter the target of his comments. 

The incident that started it all

As a backstory, in 2017, the senator was attacked by his neighbor Rene Boucher (the neighbor in Marx’s tweet) when they were apparently in an argument about their yards. Paul suffered broken ribs and bruised lungs, a “significant injury that I have lifelong symptoms from.” Boucher pled guilty to assaulting a senator.

Vaccine comments and the mysterious package

Now, the most recent hate mail arrived after Paul said on WABC radio that he already had COVID, so he wasn’t getting vaccinated until “they show me evidence that people who have already had the infection are dying in large numbers or being hospitalized or getting very sick.” Fox News reported that the envelope had a picture of Paul wrapped in a bandage with a gun pointed at his head and this quote: “I’ll finish what your neighbor started you motherf——” On Tuesday, the substance was found to be nontoxic, according to the Associated Press.

“I take these threats immensely seriously,” Paul said in a statement. “As a repeated target of violence, it is reprehensible that Twitter allows C-list celebrities to encourage violence against me and my family. Just this weekend Richard Marx called for violence against me and now we receive this powder filled letter.”

Glorification of violence

People were calling for Marx to face the consequences for his tweet, saying his words violated the glorification of violence policy. It states that “you can’t glorify, celebrate, praise or condone violent crimes, violent events where people were targeted because of their membership in a protected group, or the perpetrators of such acts.” The Tweet is currently no longer available because it “violated the Twitter rules.” 

People may not agree with the senator, his views or his actions. But isn’t the normalization of violence a dangerous path? Many people are calling for civil discourse from all sides.

“Social media should probably go after anyone who’s trying to incite violence around Senator Paul, who deserves our respect as a sitting senator or as our neighbor,” host of Follow the Profit podcast David Grasso said.

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