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Comfort the allicted and afflict the comfortable

By DOUG THOMPSON - Capitol Hill Blue
March 15, 2013

031513comfortA long-time friend and life member of the National Rifle Association met me for breakfast this week and smiled.

“You raised a lot of ruckus with your column about the NRA and Colorado,” he said. “I know some folks who want to beat the crap out of you.  When I explained to them what your were really doing, they calmed down, sort of.”

My friend is a die-hard conservative.  We eat breakfast together at least three times a week, along with others at a table mixed with conservatives, liberals and independents.

We share a love of country and the belief that, from time to time, you need to stir things up and get people upset so they will stand up and speak out.

Most at the table understand that it is the role of a journalist to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

In today’s partisan, take no prisoners and never cooperate world, that role is too often missed or overlooked.

Too bad.

Wednesday’s column in Capitol Hill Blue brought many angry responses from NRA members and gun supporters.  Many called me a liberal, some included the word “communist,” at least one said I was “a f—ing jew” and some claimed I was “anti-Redneck.”

That brought a laugh at the breakfast table that is composed primarily of Rednecks who, like me, grew up in a Blue Ridge Mountain community where the only town has a population of 434.

My “sports car” is a 13-year-old Jeep Wrangler with dual lockers and a well-used 8,000-pound Warn winch.  My other transportation is a Harley-Davidson, currently under repair from an encounter last fall with a cow on a highway at the foot of a mountain.

Anti-Redneck?  The fellow Rednecks who grew up with me would disagree.

Anti-gun?  Those who know that I normally pack a Glock 17 or a Ruger LC-9 would also disagree.  So would those who join me on a regular basis at local shooting ranges or hunting in season.

But, as a journalist, it is not my job to serve as an advocate for any particular issue or cause.  It is my job to stimulate public interest and debate.

Yes, I have written columns that appear to be anti-gun, just as I have penned others that are considered pro-gun.  I have also published articles that are pro and con on the issue of gun control.

I have also written columns pro and con about President Barack Obama, pro and con about Republicans, Democrats and a number of other causes.

So what’s my political philosophy?  I don’t have one.  I’m not a Democrat or a Republican, a conservative or a liberal or anything that can be defined with a partisan label.

I’m a troublemaker.  Always have been, always will be.  Regular readers of Capitol Hill Blue know that.  The drive-bys who come here because of a link published on Facebook or somewhere else often don’t know that unless they take the time to do a little research.

If a column draws a number of comments on both sides of an issue, then it has accomplished its purpose.  If people stop and think about a topic, then I have accomplished my goal.

If not, I move on and try something else.

I’ve been doing this for half a century and I intend to keep doing it for a while longer.

You can read or not read, agree or disagree.  Your choice.  That’s what a free country is all about.

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13 Responses to Comfort the allicted and afflict the comfortable

  1. griff6r

    March 15, 2013 at 8:53 am

    So the broad characterizations you used in your article were rebutted with broad characterizations? Go figure…

    Such is the state of identity politics.

    • Doug Thompson

      March 15, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      That is your opinon of the opinions expressed to my opinion. In the end that is all any of it was and all that was expected.

      • griff6r

        March 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm

        Indeed! And I expressed mine.

        But one shouldn’t complain of others using generalities when commmenting on a piece full of them.

        • Doug Thompson

          March 16, 2013 at 6:28 am

          I’m afraid that, as happens all to often, you miss the point entirely. Not all of the comments posted to the previous columns were generalities and not all of the points made in the column itself were generalities. It is your habit to reduce many things here to snide, condescending retorts and it is a habit that some find irritating.

          Why not offer some constructive ideas? Why not be specific in your claims? I backed my claim of racism by the NRA by noting that they endorsed George Allen twice. In one race his opponent was a Vet with a good record on guns but they stuck with the racist. Other racists that they have backed include Virgil Goode.

          You tend to be snide and insulting to anyone with opinions that differ with you.

  2. Bill Cravener

    March 15, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I know some folks who want to beat the crap out of you.

    So some of those tough-guys want to kick your ass do they? Doug, oh how I wish I could be down there to meet these tough-guys. I would pay good money to confront those self assumed tough-guys (without their gun induced pair that is). ;)

    • Evan Hillman

      March 21, 2013 at 6:47 pm

      Perhaps the cow was hired by the extremists to take Doug out? You know, it ran down from the grassy knoll when it did with perfect timing, based on covert intel from the CIA and the aliens in Roswell. No doubt after the accident they swooped in with black helicopters to cover the traces of the cow’s illicit activates, making it the best cover-up since our government blew up the twin towers on 9/11…

  3. SDRSr

    March 15, 2013 at 10:40 am

    “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” is not the easy path.

    Just finished watching an old movie, “Judgment at Nuremberg” staring Spence Tracey and other great actors. To make a long story short and to get right to the point. In his part as the senior member of the Tribunal in his summation he said something that needs be kept in mind with what has been happening in this Country since September 11th, 2001 and should have been a guiding principle to us. To long and complex with emotional, national, legal, moral, and life implications to boot to discuss here.

    The final line of the movie “Herr Janning, it came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent”

    Need to read the wiki article or better yet watch the movie, to put the above into context and for understanding.

    Obligatory WikiPedia link –> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judgment_at_Nuremberg

  4. Sandy Price

    March 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Apparently America has been swallowed up by citizens who cannot express themselves outside of using war words. Is this the new American culture?

    Are we supposed to send our kids to school to learn self defense? So many parents want to arm their little kids so they will be safe in the classroom and on the buses.

    I had great hopes that a peaceful culture would soon be part of our political dialog. To me, the greatest tool to clear the anger from the air was the internet. It turned angry and hateful so quickly that I left the ‘net for over a year.

    In my world of politics, the religious right set the standard of insult. The dialog from the pulpit came with growling anger at Americans who questioned the world of God. Pat Robertson built the University and Jerry Falwell set the tone.

    It tore the heart out of the Republican Party. I do not claim that all Christians are the source of anger but I cannot find another source so obvious.

    In 1964, it was Goldwater who brought the truth to many in his party that his party would rest on the separation and he wanted Robertson and Falwell to stay out of the Conservative agenda.

  5. woody188

    March 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I imagine the folks that were upset didn’t like having your grouping them into hate groups based on their association with the NRA. That’s like calling all clergy child molesters, because there are some that are child molesters. Does that seem like stimulating conversation or instigating a fight via outright slander?

    • Doug Thompson

      March 16, 2013 at 6:38 am

      In a real world, people are judged by the company they keep. The NRA has a proven record of backing racists or bigots like George Allen or Virgil Goode, even when they are running against candidates with good records on gun ownership. The NRA does nothing to keep felons from joining or ridding their membership of felons when told of their existence.

      I have the same problem with those who associate themselves with the tea party, a fake grassroots organization with a proven record of promoting racism, bigotry and hatred. I admire priests who left the Catholic church in protest of its coverup of sexual abuse by members of their clergy and I have a problem with those who ignored the situation and looked the other way. That’s one of the reasons that while I am a firm believer of God, I am not a believer or supporter of organized religion. I belong to no church or secular order.

      The best way to deal with groups that support racism, bigotry or hate is to quit and make that resignation a public issue. I did so when I quit the NRA over its record of endorsements of racists.

      Those who continue to associate themselves with groups with questionable records of such issues without question are, in my opinion, supportive of such records.

    • Gregg Sealy

      March 17, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      Yeah, Woody, nothing like a one-shoe-fits-all accusation. And that’s the type of accusation that causes people to be enraged. The old guilt by association isn’t a great argument as far as I’m concerned. And obviously, there are others that aren’t all that fond of it either.

      My brother is a member and far from a racist, bigot, yadda, yadda, yadda. He’s one of the most respected guys by all who know him.

      I’m not NRA, never have or will be. Never read a word regarding their organization from any source. I’ve never felt compelled to look for any.

      But I live outside of Austin in the Texas Hill Country, which happens to be the best deer hunting area in Texas. I know a number of ranchers who lease land for hunters. I know a lot of hunters. I know that some of them or NRA members…and as far as the people I know who are…I find them to be nothing like all of the negative claims made about so many of the NRA members. They’re all upstanding citizens to my knowledge.

      And yes, the pen can be mightier than the sword. Just like a gun in the wrong hands can be a dangerous thing…so can a pen be.

      • Capitol Hill Blue

        March 17, 2013 at 8:08 pm

        You know Gregg, what I find equally hilarious and disturbing is the fact that both you and Woody appear to miss is the fact that I never said that I find all NRA members share the organization’s racist beliefs and activities. As I said in the opening in the column, a good friend of mine — a life member of the NRA — is a regular breakfast companion and fellow hunter. I would put my life in his hands.

        But I guess you missed that. The point is the histrionics and hypocrisy of the organization and, by default, the members who overlook such lapses in judgement through steadfast — and strident — defense.

        I know many NRA members who are not racists and I never said all — or even most — were guilty of bigotry and hate. On the other hand, I have encountered a disturbingly high number who do express racism, homophobia and other hate-filled traits.

        It is my choice to disassociate myself from groups that espouse such things. That is my choice. Others look for other reasons to continue their association. That is their choice.

        Jesus, some of you are so wrapped up in over-serious zealotry that any attempt to bring problems out in the open are dismissed as generalities or, as one put it, hidden agendas. It is little wonder that this nation cannot find a working middle ground to accomplish things.

  6. Sandy Price

    March 15, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    Woody, it is very apparent that when certain groups gather to make changes in any organized culture, it often means a force of control. We saw this in the writings of Madison and Jefferson who knew only too well that organized religion is committed to wanting as many people as possible to believe as the majority. Goldwater met with Robertson and Falwell when they tried to pressure him to deny his Jewish roots. This seems to be a fairly common desire when believers organize.

    I’m big in reading family journals and the trouble the family goes to force organized labels on just about everyone. The LDS has many people who do nothing but keep family records to guarantee that some horror like me (a Secular) stays away from the rest of the family. I’ve been shunned for 80 years.

    It caused me to look more deeply into the religion that had captured my family’s interest. When religion becomes a divider in American politics, not only is it unkind but it is illegal. Our Separation of church and state was written by Madison and Jefferson but not added into the Bill of Rights.

    Today it has caused a huge break in our Political positions. I lived with it until Geo. W. Bush put Federal Grant money into the churches and anyone who knew what this mean was upset. My every fear was proven.

    There were few journals I did not read on this history of the LDS in formation but the history of the Catholics in their murdering each other in their Inquisition years. University studies have shown that the Separation should have been legalized because the churches divided only by which God ran the show but which colors followed the Gods.

    The GOP wants America to destroy Islam. This is the connection the Christians share with Israel. Together they can kill off Islam. I have never believed in the Christian God because the attitude of the followers is based on the destruction of Islam. Some of the most humane Americans are Seculars. I discovered Gene Roddenberry was an admitted Secular Humanist and it shows in his television scripts and his movies. When a Secular Humanist writes up a contract it seldom requires a lawyer allowing one participant to sue another.

    It is as close to a total departure from taking from one side and giving it to another. All participants are equal. There are no added notes needed to protect one party from another. There are no wars started to destroy anyone on another continent. There is a sense of morality that is almost missing in America today. Even getting married in America today often means a document protecting property must be signed to protect one side against the other.

    If the Christians want to protect their reputation, they have had 2000 years to change their ways. Look at the candidates who ran in the last election as good strong Christian Conservatives.

    I just want all candidates to work for the separation of church and state and keep their pants zipped and stop having children without legal fathers. The problem is the way they want to blame the women for their promiscuity and be punished by forcing them to put in 18 years for their mistake.

    I paid close attention to the Conservative men and their agenda. Demanding equal rights in America is not outright slander. Demanding higher academics is not starting a fight. It was in my family. Even after my divorce, I had a hospital stay and had to hire an lawyer to protect my home and my kids because my ex-was waiting with his lawyer to get my property. My stepson became the legal guardian of my kids and my property. Legally in California my ex husband would have everything had I died. Read the bible and you will how this works.

    I will keep my stimulating words to myself. The illusion of equality on CHB is a bluff. The new head honcho of the LDS church spent 17 months in prison as a child molester. He is the Prophet of the LDS and he runs Romney’s life. I have mentioned a book about the LDS here and R.R. but nobody would read it. You know it all about the Mormons.

    Nobody is asking for any church to be closed and nobody is asking to take away your guns.