When did we slip into this vortex? If you listen to people talk in restaurants and bars or (gulp) read the comment sections on blogs, it seems like everyone is angry. Angry at the EPA for "destroying coal;" angry at the IRS for "committing unconstitutional acts of robbery;" angry at the media and it's "liberal bias" that hides the crimes of the Washington elite; and overlaying all that, people are mad at that "black Muslim socialist" that's the root of all this evil.
Everything is so extreme. People you don't like "surrender" if you win a point; someone with an alternative viewpoint "blasts" others; everything you don't like is "destroying" America and is "Anti-American;" disliked leaders are called "dictators" and "terrorists" just because their plan to get from A to B is different than your plan to get from A to B.
Why aren't people allowed to pick a middle road? The "extremification" of America is forcing moderate people to pick the left or right side, and it's pushing those already on the left or right way out onto the brink of insanity. You only need to watch C-SPAN or read Facebook comments on news stories to see that it's happened and it's happened in a big way.
America's new religion is anger. Angry all the time and at everything, persistently persistent in not listening to alternate viewpoints. "You're wrong and I hope you die at the hands of a wood chipper" is not a great attitude to have toward anyone or anything you deem to not be on your side of an issue.
I recently got into a Facebook battle with a guy I didn't know. I had commented on a mutual friend's post about the Affordable Care Act (which featured some very out of date and demonstrably inaccurate claims). Even though my post was even-handed and at its core was completely aligned with the viewpoint of this stranger, he took offense with one element of my analysis and implemented a scorched earth policy. He attacked my intelligence, age, experience, manhood, and national allegiance. The fact that we were on the same side of the issue was irrelevant to him. He was looking for a fight from the safety of his computer and he got one. I engaged him a little bit because, hey, I'm only human.
But after typing a long, point-by-point analysis of his attacks and why they are bogus and stupid, I realized there's no sense in this. Why spend time being angry and catty and rude? I took the high road and immediately felt better. No more aggravation, no more elevated heart rate, no more bad feelings. It was over more quickly than it had begun.
I'm sure it's too much to ask of people to remember that we are all human beings. Our views are different, but we should still be able to be civil and get along. Differences should be discussed politely and thoughtfully, not shouted out in a series of ad hominem bursts and strawmen. But with the ability to say anything you want at any time, what's to stop you from calling the president a "black Muslim faggot" or telling a stranger you hope he and his family are murdered in their home?
A little common decency would prevent it. Is that really too much to ask?