In the time since I started this blog, I haven’t exactly shied away from controversy in my postings. But with all the issues being debated – Mideast politics, Concordia politics, the US and potential war on Iraq, terrorism – I seem to be getting the most critical e-mails about my post below on Jim Turnbull and the Canadian gun lobby.
Now, the gun registry’s got problems and it might not be the most popular viewpoint out there to oppose those opposing it, but come on, this is far from the most controversial topic that’s come up here! So I wondered why it’s getting so much attention. Then it came to me: because I’m pro-Israel, people assume I must be right-wing in my politics and that I’m therefore a supporter of what our neighbours to the south call the “right to bear arms”.
Simply put, I attracted a right-wing readership with my main topic of discussion, and then alienated them by doing a 180 on an issue that I happen to disagree with them about. Don’t get me wrong, I agree to disagree – some of the smartest bloggers I know want to toss the gun registry out the window (check out the links on the lefthand side of this page) and it’s not like I don’t understand where they’re coming from. But I have to ask sometimes: what does wanting more restrictions on gun ownership and licensing have to do with supporting Israel?
Anyone notice anything strange about those combinations? They don’t logically follow. And I categorically reject the idea that we need to pick a side and go along with all the pet issues that have come to represent one side or another.
In my FAQ, I specifically state that I don’t identify with either the Left or the Right. My views are simply my views, and I think that the real hypocritical thing is to change them simply because the political stage has shifted in one direction or another. If I said I was a Liberal, and tomorrow all Liberals decided that their new pet issue was opposing all people with orange socks, and I disagreed with that, then it would be silly to go along with it simply because of a label, wouldn’t it?
I take issue with the Left for its overspending of our tax dollars, its hatred of anything with a profit motive, and its absolutely disastrous foreign policy – especially when it comes to the Mideast, but in general as well.
I take issue with the Right for butting into our private lives in issues of abortion, gay rights, and religion, and its insistence that the right to own a gun is more important than the right for the next guy not to get shot, and its refusal to associate rights and freedoms with responsibilities.
Most of all, I take issue with people who assume that it’s a spectrum of “either-or” and that everyone has to pick one side or the other.
So I’m just going to keep on saying what I think, without worrying about whether it’s fashionable on the Left or on the Right, and trust that people out there reading can recognize the difference between labels and views. I also happen to hold an inkling – maybe naively idealistic – that if we can just get past these labels, and pick and choose the good from both sides, maybe we can get somewhere closer to where we want to be as a society.