One of my guilty pleasures is to read the commentary on news and opinion items at my local newspapers online site. Let me first say that this dialogue is dominated by perhaps two dozen diehard enthusiasts who obviously have more time than they know what to do with. There are approximately an equal number of conservatives and liberals, ostensibly, who are among these chronic posters. One means of amusing myself while reading is counting the number of posts before the debate leaves the realm of the topic and becomes quite personal.
There seems to be an epidemic of ad hominem attacks at all levels of public discourse these days. Normal people with valid opinions are consistently called idiots, morons (or morans if you wish) or any number of epithets denoting some level of depravity. I have often wondered what is the source of all this vitriol. Do people truly need to demonize those with different opinions? Do they need to call people names simply to make them feel better about themselves or their own opinions?
I believe everyone wants to believe that their opinions are correct. There is nothing wrong with this. A large part of life is assessing situations and forming an opinion. Where this can all too easily go south is when we make the illogical assumption that those who disagree with us have some sort of mental or emotional deficit.
The media can take at least a modicum of the blame for this phenomenon. Modern media can emphasize the differences between us rather than the things we all have in common as humans and Americans. As citizens we must overcome this tendency to demonize our social and political opponents.
A lot depends on us developing meaningful and conscious dialogue to address our many problems