I suppose it shouldn't surprise me, but it still does.
After 13 years of writing this column every Tuesday, I am constantly amazed at the way people can twist the English language to mean whatever they wish it to mean.
Perhaps my ignorance is due to my lack of being a journalist of any sort, as doing so is of course an insult to all journalists . (For the curious, not that it matters, I'm a marketing and finance guy.)
But most normal people (a twistable phrase if there ever was one) can read the following and completely comprehend what it means: "I understand guns are never going away, nor do I have anything against the Second Amendment except extremist interpretations based on 17th century lifestyles."
Yet here are a few quotes I heard and read last week in direct response to the above sentence:
"So you're for banning guns?!"
"What do you have against the Second Amendment, smart guy?"
"Are you carrying, because you might need it after that last column."
"Automobiles kill far more people than guns. ... So you're saying we should ban cars?!"
This insanity of attempting to equate gun deaths with death by automobile - or in the theater of the extremely absurd, the infamous "Death by hammer" chart repeated ad nauseum on Facebook - is the epitome of a straw man chowing down on a red herring.
Making a single statement in support of one side of an issue does not, and never will, constitute a blanket of total support for that particular side. It simply implies an open mind towards debate, a willingness to listen to both sides in an attempt to have a clearer understanding of each.
It's how we progress as a species.
Christopher Hitchens once said, "There can be no progress without head-on confrontation."
Extremist views from the right and the left are where real issues begin, but it's up to the moderates in the middle to actually affect change of any sort, and that is where the vast majority of us essentially stand, whether willing to admit this or not.
Full-fledged nut cases like Alex Jones (the Pat Robertson of the gun industry) and Wayne LaPierre (who I suppose is the Billy Graham or perhaps the pope) are proof positive to me that mental health is a much larger issue than gun ownership.
Yes, freedom is everything to these types, by golly, unless of course you're a homo, don't believe in Jesus, a pregnant woman, or on welfare.
On the other side, we have the Bloombergs and the Cuomos, the Reids, Pelosis and Michael Moores, all just as crazy on certain issues and in the same dire need of subjective reasoning and commonsense to affect changes in public policy.
So this apparently leaves it up to us in the middle to appreciate the true meaning of words, and to use that understanding to further expand our sociological intellectualism toward issues that affect us all.
Have fun twisting.
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.