An Open Letter to Political Extremists: You Are Your Own Worst Enemies

political-extremists.jpg
Dear Political Extremists,

I'm going to imagine you've been bound and gagged for a few minutes because I assume if you were not, you would run roughshod over my attempts to speak with you in a reasonable tone. You talk (and type) a lot, you know that? And this is coming from someone who has more than once been accused of needing to shut the hell up.

So, now that I have your attention for a moment, I want to start by saying you really confuse me. I understand that we we all have moments where we think we know it all. In my case, it is the belief that the best five-year period for album releases was 1974 to 1979. In this regard, there is no argument. But, as important as that issue may be, it clearly pales in comparison to gun control, global warming, healthcare, taxation and a host of other political issues that are flash points for extreme dialogue online and off.

And let me take one second to let you off the hook if you are religious and opposed to abortion, gay marriage or some other issue that lands you on the perceived moral high ground. I will never be able to convince you that these aren't sins as told to you by God, so I'm not going to argue. This doesn't mean I'm with you, but like Ron Burgandy and Veronica Corningstone agreed to disagree in Anchorman when Burgandy believed San Diego was German for "a whale's vagina," it's not really worth the fight.

The issues I'm speaking of are not specifically religious. Of course there is that one obscure verse in Colossians, which said, and I'm paraphrasing, "Cleave thy assault weaponry unto thy bosom and let not the heathens strip it from you, thus sayeth the Lord." Also, if you believe that everything from tattoos to passport stamps are the mark of the beast and clearly foretell the end times, I can't help you.

What I'm trying to figure out here is if there is ANY middle ground for you. I'm looking at both sides of the political aisle here.

On one hand, we have the idiots who tweeted that NRA members should be rounded up and killed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. On the other is Bushmaster Firearms who posted a photo of a boy who just shot a deer with an automatic rifle captioned with, "Hunting with a AR is fun at any age. Do you hunt with your AR?" There are the people who believe that, despite mountains of scientific evidence, that global warming is a hoax. There are also people (aka hippies) who believe we should give up all fossil fuels and live off the bounty of Mother Nature.

In every political argument, there is a din of shouting from both extreme sides of an issue that makes it impossible to get anything done. Even though, by many estimates, the most politically entrenched ideologues represent only 20 percent of the voting populace, you dominate the conversation. Whether it's the fiscal cliff or healthcare or government regulation, you are the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.

Worst of all, the very thing all of you crazy fighting extremists don't want to happen above all else is inaction, which is exactly what we all get thanks to your fighting. You are the cause of your own misery. Congratulations!

The irony is you believe you are doing this because things are so much worse today than ever before in the history of, like, history. You're joking, right? Fifty years ago, an entire race of people was subjugated and women were second class citizens. One hundred years ago, children were forced into labor and influenza killed millions (not hundreds or thousands, millions). Go back a little further and you get people owning other people. It's not like these are some hidden facts buried deep in dusty textbooks. We're talking about the Industrial Revolution, Equal Rights, Slavery and the Civil War. This is U.S. History 101, first day of class for a third grader stuff.

There's a time for fighting the good fight and a time for allowing cooler heads to prevail. But, you seem physically incapable of that last one, feeling instead that even the slightest win for the other side is an evisceration of your personal belief system and an abject failure. Even in victory, you are forced to hold onto whatever incremental gains you managed for fear they'll be taken away from you. Sucks to be you, bro.

Ok, I can see you fidgeting, so I'm going to let you go. I said my piece and got that off my chest. For a moment you were subjected to what I'm sure you think is utter bullshit. Welcome to my world.

Sincerely,

The Rest of Us



Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
41 comments
JohnSeabornGray
JohnSeabornGray

"I will never be able to convince you that these aren't sins as told to you by God, so I'm not going to argue. This doesn't mean I'm with you, but... it's not really worth the fight." I disagree. I believe that stopping the fundamentalist religion-based oppression of others' rights is most definitely worth the fight. And even though it doesn't seem like it based on the comments section, hearts and minds do change.

Other than that, I definitely agree with your sentiment that extremism on both sides limits discussion and compromise, but unfortunately it's at the point now where we can't even agree that there's a problem. Some people (myself included) look at the rise of public mass murders in America and see a uniquely American problem - occasionally present in other countries but intensely concentrated in the US - which must be addressed on multiple levels: gun availability, mental health care adequacy, culture predilection towards violence as a solution, etc. But then some other people see the occasional massacre as simply a price that must be paid to live in a "free" society, "free" in this case meaning their own particular broad interpretation of the Second Amendment. These people can't even acknowledge that this is a cultural problem we must all solve together, and that the solution will be much more complex than "more guns" or even "less guns." Their right to plentiful firepower supercedes the rights of the people killed in these horrible incidents. They're completely unwilling to accept that maybe something could be done because they see each possible solution as either erosion of their personal liberties or encroachment of socialism. So their attitude is that, hey, sometimes this is gonna happen and your best bet is to arm yourself, stock up on ammo, gas, and water, hole up, hunker down, and wait for the end times. These views are extreme, but they're regrettably common. Far from being a fringe right-wing view, it appears to be the norm.

So tell me, please, somebody: how can we start working on solutions to this problem when we can't even agree that there is a problem to be solved?

miss_msry
miss_msry

There are nuts of every ilk.

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

Jeff- AR-15s aren't "automatic rifles" Do some research before your ignorant rants, will ya? 

FYI, I use my scary looking black gun !!GASP!! to hunt as do thousands upon thousands ofother law-abiding gun owners. You can't have them, sorry.

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

Wow, that was a lot of whining. Feel better now?

phillycream
phillycream

There's not symmetry here, politically speaking. It's not like the Democrats have suddenly embraced socialism and moved to the extreme left as the Republicans have to the right. It's really remarkable that now mainstream Republican positions include: outlawing abortion, banning gay marriage, forbidding tax hikes on the wealthy, and slashing funding to popular safety net programs.

So when you say extremist, most likely you are talking about a rightward phenom.

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

@JohnSeabornGray  Careful not to make kneejerk reactions like so many are guilty of doing in the wake of this tragedy. Millions upon millions of our scary-looking black guns have never been used in any massacre and won't ever be used to kill anyone at all. The selfish acts of a few madmen should not dictate what guns we get to own for hunting, target shooting, and personal protection. Nor is it up to the usual gungrabbers to tell us what we get to do or what we get to buy, sorry. They are looking for a quick fix to an unfixable problem by demanding scapegoats' (The NRA) heads on sticks instead of really fixing the problem. It's funny watching all of the usual dogooders hop on the Ban It Bandwagon this week. Fools, one and all. I guess they are all for Constitutional rights being eroded as long as it doesn't directly affect them. Pathetic, really.

katydidknot
katydidknot

@SgtStedenko If you think he was whining, then you were probably the intended audience for the article.

I thought it was funny. 

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

@phillycream No, not "outlawing" abortion, just making Mothers face what they're really about to do and limit the time they can kill their babies to 5 months. Gay marriage is already banned in the Texas Constitution after a statewide vote, remember? You do understand all wealthy people aren't all Republicans, right? Why do you want to punish the successful? The ones who own the businesses and employ others? Spread the wealth? SIGH. So brainwashed.

JohnSeabornGray
JohnSeabornGray

@SgtStedenko I agree, knee-jerk reactions do us no favors. I don't even think we need to put the assault weapons ban on the table right now. I think our priority - and our minimum goal - has to be increased due diligence in background checks and mental health screenings - keeping firearms out of the hands of proven dangerous people. I don't want to take guns out of the hands of hunters, target shooters, or any other lawful gun owner. I do NOT, however, agree with you that this is an unfixable problem. It's a problem that isn't *easily* fixable, for sure, but if this isn't worth time, effort, self-reflection and facing hard truths, then what is?

H_e_x
H_e_x

@SgtStedenko @H_e_x Anonymity on the internet gives them a consequence free outlet to unleash their worst instincts.

Anonymity can be a good thing, though. Sometimes people live in countries with oppressive governments who won't allow certain kinds of speech and information to be spread. The problem is that people who have no reason to hide their beliefs for fear of reprisals abuse the anonymous nature of the internet to not only derail discussions, but to bring down all discourse on certain websites. Gawker, Houston Press, and many more are examples of how honest discourse is not only derailed, but made impossible by those who feel the need to hamper the ability of a site to foster conversation.

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

You are ASSuming there are even dots to connect. Do you know that woman? No? Surely you are aren't automatically guessing she has an addiction problem are you? lol

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

Are you still trying to give that woman a free pass?? Why? She was driving around high on pills with a baby in the back seat. She also left her other child in the care of someone she didn't even know. I guess it's really convenient to pass all of the blame off of her selfish, foolish actions and just blame addiction, huh? You go ahead and do that, I refuse to.

montelucca
montelucca

@SgtStedenko @JohnSeabornGray Wait, are you saying that mental illness might be responsible for some crimes? I thought the girl driving around with a buried baby in the backseat, the girl who clearly had an addiction problem, was just plain evil and negligent and not in the thrall to drugs, but chose to take them. Right? So, why isn't a crazy gun-killer the same? Just pure evil? Are you admitting an extenuating circumstance, something beyond the control of an individual's free will? Oh my.

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

@JohnSeabornGray I do agree with your thoughts on treating the mentally ill instead of just filling them full of pills and turning them loose into society.

JohnSeabornGray
JohnSeabornGray

@SgtStedenko I'm saying we don't even need to discuss the assault weapons ban right now - either enacting it OR discarding it - since there are, in my opinion, much more urgent and relevant issues.

As for background and mental health checks: yeah, in this case, they wouldn't have kept the shooter from acting -unless his mom, the legal gun owner, would have failed one. As far as I know, nobody has answered the questions of "Should she have had guns?" or even "Why weren't they secured?" yet.

But what if we overhauled the country's mental health care system in general? Made it easier to get access to help, for instance? Made institutionalization available again - surely there was a better solution to the institutionalization problem than doing away with it altogether in the 80's. That was basically the equivalent to seeing a poorly-run emergency room and shutting it down and turning all the bleeding people out into the street. 

Each mass shooting has a different way of coming into being, different things along each path which were needed to prevent it, so it's going to take a multi-pronged approach across several fronts before the US can become commensurate with the rest of the world on mass murders. It's not going to be JUST gun control or JUST mental health care or JUST cultural re-evaluation that works, we've got to do better on all fronts. It won't be easy and if you're looking for easy solutions, this is just going to keep happening with greater and greater frequency.

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

 @SgtStedenko  Why put any assault weapons ban on the table now? Why not last month? Why not last year? Why was it OK for us to own/buy them before Friday but not now? Because some selfish coward stole a gun and murdered innocent children? Why should millions of law-abiding gunowners be punished because of his actions? You do realize he didn't own the gun he used so any additional background or mental health checks wouldn't have mattered anyway, right?

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

Not bitter. I realize there are going to be ignorant, gullible sheeple around sometimes.

phillycream
phillycream

@SgtStedenko feel better sarge, you have a lot to be bitter about, but wishing you luck getting past!

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

Never was any cleaning business. Ever. But it just proves some gullible fools will believe anything they read on the internet.

vonFremd
vonFremd

@SgtStedenko Why did you change your handle from USA1? 

A lot of janitorial firms failed during the crash, you have nothing to be ashamed of. You can still be patriotic.

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

I'm not the one who posted the link to the pic.

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

Yeah yeah yeah, hypocrite. Whatever you say.

H_e_x
H_e_x

@SgtStedenko @H_e_x If thinking you are right makes you feel good, then by all means, continue believing you are right. No skin off my back, but if you have a deep psychological need to be right, while ignoring other, then go right ahead. I tried in vain to have a discussion with you, but you wouldn't have any of it.

H_e_x
H_e_x

@SgtStedenko See, there you go again, missing the point on purpose. Surely you don't address people like that in real life?

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

Post your real name or be labeled a hypocrite.

H_e_x
H_e_x

@SgtStedenko You just keep proving everyone's point. don't you?  You are the only regular commenter who isn't interested in exchanging ideas. You talk down to people, never with them. I'm not saying I'm a paragon of an internet commenter, and I have never said or implied that I was, but you just don't care, or so you say. That hasn't prevented you from replying to so many people. That would indicate a level of interest, otherwise why spend time commenting at all?

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

What's your real name?

Oh, and you are the last person on Earth that should be preaching to others about derailing a topic. HA!

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

@phillycream Obviously, all you have to do is read my prior postings on previous stories to see my viewpoints. What part of this concept eludes you?

phillycream
phillycream

@SgtStedenko 

What 'viewpoints' do you ever express USA1? It's really funny if you consider yourself an ideas guy, who offers opposition to other ideas. We have a drinking game where we shoot each time you treat us to a cliche...so don't let us down.

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

Someone has the gall to infiltrate your lefttist-thinking hangout?? Someone has the nerve to voice opposing viewpoints on here?? Shame on me! tsk tsk tsk!

katydidknot
katydidknot

@SgtStedenko I guess I could go the SgtStedenko route and find a site I really hate to frequent, but life is too short to mope around sites you hate...

Seriously. 

SgtStedenko
SgtStedenko

I guess common sense isn't that common.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

Loading...