Cesar Sayoc may have been a Papa John’s pizza delivery man, a D.J. and an ambitious bodybuilder; however, when 14 pipe bombs were sent out to notable Democrats around the country in October, Sayoc’s many titles sizzled down to one in particular: bomb suspect.
After mailing 14 bombs to politicians including former President Barack Obama, New Jersey senator Cory Booker, California Senator Kamala Harris, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the New York native was arrested in Plantation, Fla. on five federal charges, including interstate transportation of an explosive, threats against former presidents and other persons, illegal mailing of explosives, assaulting current and former federal officers and threatening interstate communications.
However, this was not Sayoc’s first run in with the law, as he has been arrested nine previous times. Sayoc’s most notable arrest was in 2002, when he threatened to bomb the Florida power company (Florida Power & Light), saying the event would be “worse than September 11th.”
Pouring even more fuel into the fire, Sayoc’s social media platforms, especially Twitter, were constantly flooded with racist images and jokes and conspiracy theories. Along with that, the pages were filled with pro-Trump news stories, footage of Sayoc at Trump rallies and photos of him wearing a Make America Great Again hat. Yet, nothing showed his radical views quite as much as his white van, which was covered in signs reading “CNN Sucks” and featured a photo of Hillary Clinton with a red X over her face.
Whether it be a tweet from the president or a notification from The New York Times, political updates are constantly at our fingertips, and, even though the two sources may be covering the same topic, it’s no secret that the wording used to convey these messages can significantly alter the way the audience interprets it. Sayoc’s actions demonstrated that radical political slander can spark equally radical reactions. While it can be easy to say that political correctness is the cultivation of a hypersensitive society, the phrases used, especially by someone who is constantly in the limelight, sets the standard for what is socially acceptable.
In a time where a 140-character tweet can define the stance of the White House, it’s important to remember that words matter.