Karma. That’s what author Stephen King decided was behind a train crash on Wednesday that left one man dead and others injured.
“A trainload of Republicans on their way to a pricey retreat hit a garbage truck. My friend Russ calls that karma,” King wrote on Twitter in response to the news that a train carrying Republican members of Congress and their families had collided with a truck this week.
Christopher Foley, only 28 years old, was reportedly killed the crash.
Other people sustained minor injuries.
Many were quick to point out the man’s death to King.
The author responded, “Of COURSE sorry the truck driver died.”
Wow. Give this man an award for apology of the year.
King then continued, "A rather thoughtless tweet from me concerning the train-truck crash, for which I apologize (if one is necessary). It should be pointed out, too, that those Republican politicians, who can be heartless when they vote, immediately got out to help."
What sincerity. What regret. What reflection.
What is so utterly repugnant about King's tweet and his half-apologies is that he is a creative individual, a writer, a novelist — someone who presumably has some empathy and understanding of other people, no matter how or what they think.
Alas, there is no understanding here, no empathy. King is instead a sad example of the way in which more and more people today are dehumanizing those with whom they disagree. If someone votes or thinks differently — then, sure, it's not a bad thing at all if they're the victims of violence or tragedy.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) recently addressed this growing phenomenon in an interview with "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert. The senator was the victim of a violent attack last year, one that left him hospitalized and on a long journey back to recovery. Paul was — and this can't be said enough — attacked by a neighbor from behind while wearing ear protection.
Though Paul has not gone into the specifics about why he was attacked, he did have this to say when Colbert brought up the incident: "We are channeling a lot of rage on both sides, politically and otherwise ... We're unhappy with each other. And I think sometimes we see people on television and we think, 'That person's not human. They don't hurt,' you know?"
He continued, "But, look, I was human, so I guess a lot of people made light of the fact that I was attacked, but I was very sick. I had pneumonia twice, I had trouble breathing at night. I really struggled for weeks and weeks to recover from this ... I think there's a way that we ought to be able to have disagreements and figure out ways to get beyond it."
Creative people should not embrace such low thinking. King is a man who has bled onto pages. He has written characters of all kinds and backgrounds. At a time of great polarization, we need thoughtful artists in this country more than ever.
What's even more perplexing here is that Stephen King himself was once the victim of a brutal accident — a car crash that nearly killed him.
Chew on this as well: A novel of King's called "Mr. Mercedes" was recently turned into a TV series that is currently headed into its second season. The opening of the novel tells of a disturbed man using a Mercedes to kill a group of people waiting in line for a job fair. While brutal and disturbing, the scene is written with empathy, grace and power. Readers feel the loss of each of those people and have reason to root for the novel's protagonist as he pushes himself to the edge of sanity in his pursuit of the killer.
What would King have written if the novel's killer went after GOP politicians? "Well, that's karma for you"?
While King puts a great deal of thought into the words he chooses to put to paper (and sell to the world) — he doesn't appear to put much thought into what he says to the media. After all, this is the man who once said illiteracy would lead people to join the military. He later apologized for that, too — and with a little more sincerity than his recent "apologies."
To King: You can be better. So be better.
Last Modified: February 2, 2018, 2:54 pm