Here is our bleak present: a time in which Melania Trump can stand before a Pennsylvania audience to denounce “mean words” and bullying on social media.
In a speech on Thursday, Melania Trump—a woman who has utilized her own social media presence to encourage the harassment of journalist, and is the wife of a man who uses Twitter as a place to settle personal affronts, perceived or otherwise—described “our culture” as “too mean and too rough.”
In a speech rich with apparently unnoticed irony, Trump said:
Like anything that is powerful, it can have a bad side. We have seen this already. As adults, many of us are able to handle mean words, even lies. Children and teenagers can be fragile. They are hurt when they are made fun of or made to feel less in looks and intelligence.
Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially for children and teenagers. It’s never okay when a 12-year-old child is mocked.
We have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other...
Trump’s speech was a carefully threaded needle that differentiated between adults, some of whom are “able to handle” mean words and lies, and children who are victims of a culture of meanness (Who created this culture? Who’s to say?). Mocking a 12-year-old is, apparently, out of bounds, but ogling teenage girls is fine. Also fine, we can assume: sexual assault, harassing female journalists, calling adult women “mean words,” boy’s talk, and unabashed racism. The only delineation is that such tactics cannot be employed against anyone under 18; once someone is old enough to vote, then go ahead.
Just a quick recap: words can hurt children, but the looming threat of political correctness hurts us all.