Opinion: Public rants


While recently walking down the street, across the way a man was expressing his frustration with, well, life in general by shouting at the sky as he meandered down the sidewalk. Good folks returning to finish the remainder of their workday spread broadly to avoid a direct encounter with our upset fellow citizen. It is unclear what motivated the outburst. Perhaps he was mentally ill. Perhaps he was simply overwhelmed by a bad day. Perhaps he just liked to stand in the street and make other people feel unnecessarily uncomfortable and threatened. No one asked and he didn’t say. 

Weeks later, the incident is vividly remembered. In fact, several such encounters have happened throught the years. Profane, inappropriate, intimidating and caustic. Life brings us to confront others who, because of circumstance or intention, are having a rough time staying within the boundaries of behavior acceptable in modern social order. If we are in a parade shouting, we might get a pass. But a single human on a rant is far less likely to be overlooked. 

And now, social media allows for the random rant to come into our homes. Flipping through pictures of our aunt’s vacation to Disney, we read the post from someone claiming the mouse to be a communist. What? We expected some remark about the size of the ice cream cone in the photo, not a social commentary on the degradation of Walt’s brainchild.