"Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and everybody else's stinks. "
Old 12-Step Program adage.
I made the mistake yesterday of posting an opinion over at JoeMyGod regarding cellphones and cellphone blockers. The blockers are, of course, illegal in this country, but they are NOT illegal in several foreign countries where suppliers will be more than happy to ship one to the States for a small fee. Because so many people are completely insensitive to how annoying their cellphone usage is, I support the "zap the mothers" faction who want to make the blockers more readily available here in the States.
Well, I touched a nerve and got mildly burned in the process. It was pretty tame, really.
But it brought back memories. I'm a survivor of CompuServe's old Section 17 of the "Issues" forum which ran over there for years. We had plenty of flame wars there, usually when some radical right, born-again, bible-thumping jerk, who'd been given a computer for Christmas, logged into the internets and went trolling for queers and lezbeans. They'd find us and zoom in like so many diver-bombers (in fact, that was their nickname, "dive-bombers"). The problem was they really weren't much fun to spar with because we were all a bunch of over-achieving Mensa refugees who liked to hang out together, sharpening our claws on each other until the unwitting dopes arrived. It was like shooting fish in a barrel.
They wouldn't last long because a) we were smarter than they were and shot holes in every argument they posited and b) they fainted when they got their first month's bill. It cost a f*cking fortune to belong to CompuServe in those days, based on connection time (we insiders used an off-line reader program called "TapCis" which would log you in and quickly upload any posts you might have and then, just as quickly, download the latest posts and then log off).
One time we were cordially invited by the good folks over at the US News & World Report forum to "drop by" and engage someone from the Colorado Family Council, or some such crapola, on the subject of equal rights for gays (this was right after Colorado had passed some cockamamie law banning the granting of "special rights" for homosexuals... which was shot down a year or two later by the Colorado Supreme Court).
But there was a dark side to all this verbal sparring. When we got bored... or when there wasn't anybody else to fight with, we would occasionally turn on each other and start to devour our own young, as it were. I was guilty of doing this. I'm sorry for my behavior then and try real hard not to get into "flames" these days if I can help it.
These days, when I find my blood-pressure rising over some trivial subject or another, I try to remember that somebody, somebody who had a momma and a poppa, might not see things quite the same way I do.
We have another saying in 12-Step programs:
"Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?"
Most of the time these days, I opt for happy.