Irritating Liberals and Conservatives in the same week is not good

Published 2:32 am Monday, April 7, 2014

Even by my impossibly high standards, this has been a good week. It began with a whack upside the head from a reader in South Georgia after I opined that those who want to change the way we teach our children in public schools ought to have their kids in public schools. I was referring to the efforts led by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) to overturn the Common Core curriculum in the recent legislative session.
My columnist commandos tell me that, like Sen. Ligon, a large number of Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly have no skin in the public education game. They don’t send their own kids to public schools but they want to tell public school teachers what and how to teach. Just what school teachers need — more meddling.
Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on your views of Common Core — Ligon’s effort died like a lemming. It didn’t help that when the senator was asked by Rep. Amy Grant (R-Valdosta), herself a public school teacher, what was wrong with Common Core, he said he would “have to go look.”  Nice.
Anyway, the reader tanned my hide for my comments on the subject. I am guessing he considers me a left-wing, big government, Obama-loving liberal.
Just as I was recovering from that near-mortal blow to my fragile ego, here comes a crabby letter from a guy in Atlanta who did not like my tongue-in-cheek account of President Obama’s telephone conversation with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin regarding the Russian takeover of Crimea. He didn’t think that was funny. He doesn’t think I’m funny. He didn’t say, but I don’t think he finds Barack Obama funny, either. On that point we agree.
The reader went on to note that my column appeared next to an article in his local paper lauding the Legislature for passage of the recent gun bill, like that was my fault, too. Obviously, he didn’t read my several thousand words in opposition to “Guns for God.” I didn’t make a big point of pointing out that incongruity to him. Liberals don’t think incongruities are funny, either.
After reading the two letters from two different parts of the state with two different views of my opinions, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself. Being a left-wing, big government, Obama-lover, while also being a right-wing, George W. Bush-loving, bloodthirsty war monger is not as easy as I make it look. It is the literary equivalent of patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time, only it requires more commas.
If people want to read into my comments something that either confirms their political point of view or is diametrically-opposed, that is fine with me. I am not as concerned about being politically-correct in their ideological eyes as I am in tweaking the humor-impaired who provide me more targets than I will be able to get to in several lifetimes.
My greater concern is with the apathetic souls who don’t have an opinion on anything — except who is going to get kicked off “Survivor” — who don’t get involved in trying to make theirs a better community, who don’t vote and don’t even know who represents them in the Legislature or in the Congress and don’t care. These are the people that scare me. They can suck the life out of a democracy.
I welcome strong opinions and agreeing to disagree. It is called freedom of expression and getting fussy mail is a small price to pay as long as it is civil. I have no interest in the opinions of invective-spewing, Kool-Aid-drinking wingnuts, most of whom are in serious need of a life. Hopefully, there is still some room for civility in our public discourse but I’m not terribly optimistic, given the balkanized state of politics these days. Where is humor when we need it?

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