The funny thing about satire is how some people will read a satirical piece and laugh while others will react with sheer horror. One person will find an article sarcastically amusing, while another will completely miss the point of it.
When I wrote my "Conservative Manifesto" column two weeks ago, I was expecting to receive mail from conservatives angry with me for distorting and convoluting their viewpoints. Much to my surprise, most of my mail came from the left, who labeled me a Nazi fascist.
They had missed the point and had thought that the right-wing drivel in the column was actually an explicit declaration of my beliefs. I wrote back to each and every respondent, asking them to re-read my column and to not take it so seriously. Everyone who responded after that understood what I was trying to accomplish.
So, I will open my column by inviting all those who missed the satire to either e-mail me or visit my Web site (surf.to/pariah) to discover the method to my madness for both the Conservative Manifesto and Liberal Manifesto (which came out that Friday, Sept. 29). For now, please take my word for it that I am not the fascist persona in Wednesday's column nor the clueless persona in Friday's.
If I am neither conservative nor liberal, then what was the point of the columns? The point was to demonstrate why I am neither conservative nor liberal. The answer: The standard of beliefs of being a "liberal" or a "conservative" are far too arbitrary for masses of intelligent people to actually believe.
The standards by which "liberal" and "conservative" are judged are by our past actions, not any standard line of thinking. If Americans traditionally imposed it in the past (such as the death penalty and the possession of guns), then conservatives are for it and liberals are against it. Likewise, if it is a relatively new legal institution (such as welfare and abortion), then the opposite occurs. There are exceptions, but these exceptions do not follow any particular logic of their own.
If one person believes that an unborn child has no right to life, but that a convicted murderer does, I can respect that belief even though I may disagree. If that person also believes that tobacco should be illegal but guns should not be, I can respect those beliefs too, although I may disagree.
What disturbs me is that it is considered logical to believe all these things (or the opposite of all these things) at once in the name of liberalism (or conservatism) when they have virtually nothing in common and, in some cases, are in conflict with one another. It makes me wonder whether they actually put thought into their beliefs or if they just decided to join the conservative or liberal hivemind.
I am an independent moderate. My stances on issue to issue range from very liberal (gay rights) to very conservative (capital punishment). While I am not wishy-washy, I am unbound by the restraints of a particular political party and therefore free to change my views whenever I receive more information. Maybe my beliefs are no more or less arbitrary than the Republicans' or Democrats' platforms, but at least I know that they are my beliefs and that I am not the product of a political party's set of issued philosophical ideals.
I also know I am not alone. It's people like me who have kept Clinton in the White House, and it's people like me who will quite likely put Gov. Bush there in 2000.
While I may not always agree with my fellow independents, at least I know they think for themselves, and that is ultimately much more valuable in political discourse than agreement.