Moderation is all the rage in EJ Dionne Jr.’s column on President Obama’s gun control strategies today. Dionne posits that the gun conversation is so filled with extremists (both the foaming-at-mouth kind and the other kind) that it’s wild and radical for a moderate position to emerge loudly enough to prevail. But these are wild and radical times. Aggressive moderation in 2013!!!!!!!!!! Whoops. PostScript got carried away. Aggressive moderation in 2013.
It’s an experiment, one that Dionne hopes will succeed. Of course, down in the commentary laboratories, aggressive moderation on the gun control issue turned rather quickly to implied threats that one commenter was going to go to another commenter’s house and shoot the first commenter. This was implied, so it’s a bit non-moderate of PostScript to extrapolate such, so it’s more accurate to say one commenter said he might go to the house of a commenter who supplied his or her address, and that he or she might go there armed. Which might just mean to protect the other commenter’s safety, like an armed guard. Let’s stick with that.
The point is, this is an easy topic to become an extremist in, what with assuming that someone who comes to your house armed wants to shoot you and the inflamed rhetoric Centsorsense describes:
As for tyranny, apparently tyranny these days consists of slightly different policies. Not internment camps, incarcerating people for 30 years without a trial, or using untested drugs on unwitting troops, not even infecting your own veterans with terminal diseases to watch them run their course.
No, we did all of that stuff in the past as part of a Democracy, true tyranny is having a slight difference of opinion.
Is there anyone left in America who isn’t a drama queen?
michael_chaplan, too, sees Obama’s proposals as moderate and the reaction to them out of proportion:
The president worked around the edges. He did not suggest the confiscation of a single gun. For this minor activity, he was blasted. I have yet to see a sensible recommendation to end gun violence from gun advocates.
Pewboy, though, sees extremism only being called out on one side of this moderate middle:
I didn’t notice extremists on the left as a factor in this debate.
hailtopher exemplifies problems with seeming like a moderate here on the Internet, using quotation marks and sarcasm(?) to modify words that alone could be seen to be making either side’s point:
Yeah, because someone who doesn’t want an American Holocaust (the result of the government disarming We the People) obviously is an “extremist”.
But another sort of moderation is happening in the comments section at the same time. The Post’s own moderators can delete comments that defy The Post’s posted rules. So some extremism is already banished from this debate. A new wrinkle, however, is that there’s no longer a “placeholder” comment saying a comment was removed. It’s just gone, and if you replied to it you will look insane, as we see in this direct conversation with the interlocutor snipped out:
Look, the real reason the NRA and GOP are fighting this is the next election. They are trying to assemble huge financing and a large enough group to overcome a third straight defeat. It is a no lose situation for them in a way since the issue is the gathering ground no matter how it turns out. Look at what they are saying and how they are saying it. Rabble rousing, sound bites, reverting to the Hitlerian tactics that proved successful during the Bush years.
MayorEd, perhaps burned by this encounter, has a suggestion for the moderators to become a bit more extreme:
A lot of posts have been taken down by the Post but they don’t tell you who posted something really bad and stupid. Might be a good idea.
Ed – oh, they’re going on a list all right.
At this time, we are all just lucky that Post moderators are not allowed to come to our houses armed to enforce their wild brand of radical moderation.