Intentionally Unreasonable: Why we can't be friends

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I’m sorry it’s come to this, but going forward, we can’t be friends. I’ve known you for many years. You’ve spent time with my family. The door of my house has been open to you. But, we can’t be friends.

You know why, I know why, but to the world, here is the reason: you are a fool.

Not dumb, not uneducated, just a fool running on a reckless operating system of foolishness.

And in many cases, with you and others, your foolish talk and actions are hurting Maine, hurting the country, and causing pain and suffering, directly and indirectly, to many people that I care about.

Here are just a few of the reasons that you’ve been deleted from my life;

• You support Donald Trump to be our next president. Either you don’t understand the enormous global role and impact of the president of the United States, or you don’t care about what will result from the election of an egotistic, narcissistic, hypocritical, mean-spirited, misogynistic jerk. Plus, he’s a bully who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the nuclear launch codes.

Yes, I get it. You’re fed up with career politicians. I share that disdain. But to support such a dangerous candidate for the most critically important job in the world is an act of lunacy.

• You actively deny the undeniable reality of man-made climate change and its long-range impact in the U.S. and across our planet. I don’t care that you don’t know the difference between periodic weather change and global climate disruption. What I care about it the indisputable, scientific, fact-based evidence that shows our planet is heating up, ocean levels are rising, and various land and sea ecosystems are being harmed.

Only someone blinded by partisan rhetoric or shear foolishness could argue against the simple truth that our environment is being negatively impacted by all the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

How can anyone care about their children and grandchildren and not recognize the horrors that are projected over the next hundred years from climate change? Only a fool could deny the compelling science associated with climate change and only a greater fool would argue against greater pollution and air-quality standards to slow the impact on our planet.

• You argue against any type of reasonable gun control. Yes, I know that you love the Second Amendment. I agree; it’s a perfectly fine amendment, especially when it was crafted in 1791. But lots of things have changed since then and our Bill of Rights was designed with a mechanism to evolve and reflect those cultural, technological, governmental shifts – something called an “amendment.”

The Second Amendment was one of the first 10 introduced as part of our Constitution. Since those horse-and-buggy times, thousands and thousands of changes have been made to federal and state laws, along with many fundamental changes to our Constitution through various changes in case law and rulings made by the Supreme Court. That’s a normal and healthy function of any democracy.

What’s unhealthy is when a special-interest group like the National Rifle Association hijacks an issue like reasonable gun policy and politicizes it for its own commercial interests under an anti-government umbrella of fear and misinformation.

It’s reasonable to support and protect reasonable gun owner rights. It’s also reasonable to recognize that we have a gun problem in the U.S., and many lives at stake.

It’s foolish to argue against more effective universal background checks, along with greater restrictions on assault-style weapons and magazine clip capacity.

• You refer to Gov. Paul LePage as one of your political heroes. You say his tell-it-like-it-is style of leadership is admirable. Such foolishness from you and him.

Although I disagree with most of LePage’s political positions, those differences are not the basis for my contempt of our governor. I can respect a leader with strong views on fiscal policy. I can respect a leader here in Maine who pushes for urgent restructuring of public policy in core areas like taxation, education, health care and social services.

I just can’t and don’t respect the boorish bully that is LePage and I can’t forgive him or you for not seeing the damage done to Maine during his gubernatorial reign.

Like our governor’s good friend, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, or game-show candidate Donald Trump, our own governor has used his bully pulpit, not for positive change, but instead to be a basic, no-frills, nothing-special bully. While you may like LePage personally or support him politically, you’re a fool not to see the pain and damage he has caused to our great state.

As the years behind me grow beyond those in front, I’m losing the capacity and interest for personal or political correctness, even when silence is the safer path.

We’re in a period of time where great and complex challenges exist all around us. For sure, there are also vast opportunities looking forward, that we must focus upon with clarity and purpose. Too much at stake to waste anymore time or negative energy on your brand of foolishness.

Good luck to you my former friend, your foolishness is no longer a benign annoyance, but instead a destructive tumor that I’m choosing to remove.

You know who you are.

Steve Woods is from away, but fully here now, living in Yarmouth, working in Falmouth, traveling the world, and trying his best. His column appears every other week. He can also be heard each Saturday at 11 a.m. on WLOB-AM 1310.

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  • justanotherfakename

    In a way Steve’s reaction is similar to my own personal decision to avoid the glib banal self important prattle of the willfully ignorant new conservative hate mongers. I rarely read on line reactions to articles any longer, for the exact reasons Steve so succinctly lays out, we don’t have time for fools. When I accidentally do read or hear the talk radio based absurdities, I look away. No more bothering to have a conversation with those incapable of same. Unlike Steve though; I’m doubtful they were ever my friends to begin with. Those who Steve so aptly describes are not looking for a conversation, they are looking for a fight. And fighting with fools is a foolish waste of time. Good opinion piece Steve; any exchange with Trump lovers and LePage fans is a waste of energy.

  • truther

    Eh, I’ve got mixed opinions about this. I agree completely with the attitude, especially on things like climate denialism and general tea party vitriol, that there are millions of fools in this country who are causing our nation serious long-term damage.

    At the same time these fools exist precisely because of the echo chamber they live in. They talk only amongst themselves, read their own version of the “news,” repeat their own self-reinforcing propaganda, and so on. They live in their own world where incoherencies are taken as gospel truth. So cutting them off seems like the last thing we should be doing. They’re not going away just because the sensible segment of the population turns its collective back on them. Doing so would only make the problem worse.

  • Bowdoin81

    Congratulations on a forceful “othering” of people whose opinions, learned or instinctive, don’t match yours.

    • Kevin McCarthy

      Again, not what he wrote. In fact he goes to pains to point out that he is expressly not criticizing those with different opinions. The problem is the willful ignorance, the partisan hackery and the blind allegiance to a political point of view.

      • Jimmy_John67

        Because willful ignorance, partisan hackery and blind political allegiance only occurs in the Republican Party right?

        • Kevin McCarthy

          “Because willful ignorance, partisan hackery and blind political allegiance only occurs in the Republican Party right?” Neither he nor I wrote that. I don’t – and at least based on this column, does Woods – suggest that the problem is limited to one side of the political spectrum. It is interesting though, and perhaps illuminating, that the right side of that spectrum seems to be particularly defensive about this. That’s not a condemnation, it’s a simple observation based on the responses to this column.

          • Jimmy_John67

            You failed to address the second half of my previous post. Don’t you find it interesting, and perhaps illuminating, that he only used examples associated with conservative voters to make his point if he had no preconceived bias either way?

            P.S. I also find it interesting, and perhaps illuminating, that the individual who posted three repetitive comments defending Woods to three seperate posts within the span of 10 minutes is accusing others of being defensive. That’s not a condemnation, it’s a simple observation based in your responses to this column.

          • Kevin McCarthy

            Oh, don’t let a little OCD bother you. And imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Thank you.

      • SteveWoodsME

        (exactly)

        • Jimmy_John67

          Another good example of willful ignorance that you excluded from your article are people who can’t just accept that they got soundly defeated in an election and have to make up stories about ethics violations instead. Some people don’t believe the obvious facts of climate change and others don’t believe the obvious facts that voters just don’t like them.

  • tiresias75

    Well said! LePage’s most recent despicable comments have made us referred to as the “Alabama with snow” – and I resent that he is the public representative of our state!

  • Jimmy_John67

    Considering the bludgeoning you took in the 2014 election I don’t think you have many friends to begin with. After reading your columns I can see why.

  • SteveWoodsME

    After LePage’s comments this week about “D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” and those “types” of guys impregnating Maine’s “white girls” – I feel an even greater sadness for how destructive our Governor continues to be for Maine and our citizens.

    • EABeem

      And an even deeper sadness that 38% of Mainers probably think he’s right.

      • jbs01

        The content and tone of those defending the Gov on comment threads speaks volumes.

        • Jimmy_John67

          Exactly! A great example of the content and tone you mention is Mr. Woods who says he can’t be friends with anyone who does not agree with his opinions. Really speaks volumes.

          • jbs01

            Actually, anyone has the right to decide who their friends are. That is quite different than a public office holder making factually inaccurate, racially charged statements.

          • Jimmy_John67

            Agreed but that was not the theme of your original comment. Careful, your hypocrisy is showing.

          • jbs01

            Commenting on the content and tone of those defending the Gov regarding his comments? I did not condemn them for liking the Gov. I condemned the content of their ideas and arguments.

            Nothing hypocritical there, JJ.

            FWIW, when someone appeals to my racial interest, they lose me. That was one of the Gov’s defenders. Appeals to racial solidarity are by definition divisive.

          • Jimmy_John67

            Yet it’s not divisive to say that anyone who does not share your politIcal opinions is somehow beneath you and not worthy of friendship? That isn’t an idea or argument worth condemning as well? If that is your stance then your hypocrisy is on full display now!

          • jbs01

            It is divisive in the sense that the friends in question may have their feelings hurt. But there is no equivalency with the Gov’s statement. Here is why:

            Steve Woods is not speaking as an elected official nor as the Chief Executive of the State. He is an opinion columnist.

            Steve Woods also did not resort to generalizations, racial short hand or ethnic slurs. He does not invent statistics or make his judgment based upon the race of his friends.

            He is judging his friend not on the basis of the color of their skin but on the content of their beliefs, one measure of character and perhaps not the most important.

            He is also not obscuring an important public policy issue as Chief Executive of Maine – how to address the drug and opiate crisis – with racially charged language designed to sway public debate by playing to folks fears and prejudices.

          • Jimmy_John67

            Sigh. Once again you revert back to comparing the Governor’s remarks when that was not the theme of your original comment. Please try to stay on topic. My dog may not hunt but at least he isn’t out chasing his tail in a circle all day like your dog.

            It’s obvious to me at this point that you are the type of person who can never admit they may have made a generalization or mistake and instead tries to obscure their obvious hypocrisy by constantly changing the parameters of the debate. I enjoy debating with reasonable, intelligent people but that does not seem to be the case here so I will not try any longer. Have a good day and enjoy your willful hypocrisy and close mindedness!

          • jbs01

            It absolutley was the theme of my original topic. That and the calls to racial identity of his apologists.

            Your attempt to compare the column and the Gov commwnts and his supporters racially charged defense is laughable.

          • Bowdoin81

            “Steve Woods also did not resort to generalizations”
            Of course he did.
            He commits the sin of generalizing that people who are skeptical of regulatory efforts aimed at gun control and greenhouse gases do not look at facts and analysis. It’s probably true of some, maybe the (imaginary?) “friend” he is othering, but there are many thoughtful, rational Americans who do value facts, read widely on the science, and find the case for increased regulation to be wanting: there is little to indicate the proposed actions will “solve” the problems identified. This does not render one a fool.

          • jbs01

            He didnt say skeptical. You are shading meaning.

            He did not use racially charged language. He did not make up statistics.

            Get a grip.

          • Bowdoin81

            He didn’t use the word skeptical, but he portrayed those who are skeptical of proposed regulations as fools.
            FYI, skeptical people might for example “argue against more effective universal background checks, along with greater restrictions on assault-style weapons and magazine clip capacity” because there is nothing to indicate any of the atrocities cited by Mr. Obama would have been prevented by same. Woods calls such people fools, a generalization. An othering.

            Likewise on the greenhouse gas regulations.
            I would maintain that if Mr Woods is not familiar with the acknowledgment by Kerry, McCarthy, el al that there would be no effect on global average temperatures even if the US stopped all fossil-fuel related carbon dioxide emissions, then he is the one who has been fooled.

            In this column, Mr. Woods has othered a large number of people in thought, word, and attitude. I called him out for it, and you tell me to get a grip. Well then, is othering okay when it’s not about race?

          • Kevin McCarthy

            That’s not what he wrote.His point is much more fundamental: by refusing to acknowledge the facts there is no hope for an informed consensus on how to address the risks associated with those facts.

          • Bowdoin81

            No. There are very specific public policies – regulations – being set forth to “address” the risks of climate change and gun violence. Mr. Woods plainly says his former “friend” is a fool for opposing them. This is a not-so-subtle othering of Americans who do look at facts, evaluate policies, and conclude that the proposed regulations, while costly in economic impact and in terms of personal freedom, will not do much (if anything) to ameliorate the problems they are intended to “address.”

          • yarmouth1

            He is an opinion columnist who made politics very personal. Are you saying it’s okay to “judge” as long as it isn’t on the basis of skin color?

          • yarmouth1

            Like when President Obama said that the “cops acted stupidly.”

          • Kevin McCarthy

            Except that Woods didn’t say that.

  • yarmouth1

    Sounds good to me. Consider the divorce final. It’s always good to make personal enemies out of the politics of the day, right?

    I’m curious though – whatever happened to the liberal virtue of tolerance? Coexist? This only applies when the “friend” agrees with every stupid word you say?

    Thankfully, you aren’t my next door neighbor. I feel bad for your real neighbors, some of whom presumably disagree with you. I guess they’ll skip your house when they need a cup of sugar. My next door neighbors are liberal – but, politics aside, if they ever needed our help we would be there for them.

  • Charles Martel

    Like Ed (Moon)Beem, how did you even get a column? Attempts to be clever don’t mean you are. For what is worth, you would’ve been shown my door long ago.

  • Chew H Bird

    While I agree that Mr. Trump is not suited for the Presidency, I will also mention the current Democratic lady front runner has criminal implications and her competitor wants to give away the farm.

    While the NRA is indeed a special sort of special self serving group, so are many of the other special interests groups who spend millions on lobbying efforts.

    What I find difficult to swallow, is our various forms of media from radio, television, and online sources make up the single most viable PAC and these groups are not generally categorized as a special interest group. Individually, radio shows, television shows, and specific websites are questioned but the reality of the cumulative impact of these media sources is being ignored (of course).

    The generalized and overall media focus through multiple delivery mechanisms is the single largest contributor to the current state of our nation. They are paid to promote and do so unapologetic-ally and with great fervor in their pursuit of the almighty dollar (think ratings).

  • ChesterHobart

    It’s been a month or so, but I’m guessing the “friend” is still on the outs with Steve Woods… http://thedistributist.com/2016/01/19/the-conditional-love-of-a-liberal/