Tuesday, November 12, 2002

I'm a jerk and you are, too

I am a selfish, uncaring ingrate.

I'm tactless, inconsiderate and generally unworthy of my daily oxygen intake.

By the way, you are too.

A little harsh, I know, but stick with me and you, too, will realize what a jerk you are. No offense.
The other day I read a story that reporter Joseph Kissel wrote about duck hunters in Wilson.

This gaggle of seven-or-so men sit out on the newly refurbished pier and pick off waterfowl as they try to fly by.

Many visitors to the pier say guns shouldn't occupy family settings.

But Jim Cyphert of Wilson said they're doing the community a favor, ensuring that it doesn't get overrun with ducks and geese. And they have every right in the world to be there.

Both sides say they just want what's "fair."

As a father, I feel compelled to cry foul (or fowl, rather).

If I were down at the pier with my family and guns started going off, I'd be peeved.

First, my little one would have a fit. She's only two years old — and a gun would scare the bejesus out of her. Second, I'd have to explain that they were shooting duckies. She loves duckies.

Not a situation I'd look forward to, I assure you that.

But, as I stated before, they're within their rights. The pier is federal property and federal laws permit duck hunting as long as shots are fired over 500 feet of open water.

Here's my dilemma and why I'm a cretin: I see both sides, and depending on which side I might be standing on, both sides could be right — or wrong.

I've never hunted. I don't have anything against it for those who do. More power to them, in fact. I just don't have the stomach for it.

But putting myself into a hunter's shoes, it comes down to a matter of rights. If I'm allowed by law to do something, then I should be free to do it without being hassled.

It isn't too far off from the problem I have with the city's political sign law. As an American citizen, I have first amendment rights which supersede the city's desire for tidiness.

But as our illustrious city treasurer pointed out, just cause I have the right doesn't mean that I have to clutter my front yard with political ramblings from candidates that are pretty much guaranteed to lose because I support them.

Anyway ... let's get back on topic here.

Rights and responsibilities should never be separated. Along with the right of free speech comes the responsibility to not be a jerk about it.

Just because this pack of seven-or-so hunters can legally hunt off the federally funded pier doesn't mean that they should.

The greater good is that of the higher number of people — the families that are visiting the area and the folks who live nearby who choose to not be waken up by gunshots.

Right?

Or do I only think that because that's the crowd I fit into?

As Americans we learn several things at a fairly young age: 1) America is good. 2) America is great. 3) As an American, your rights are more important than anyone else's rights.

Another illustration of this is the fact that I recently — about three months ago — quit smoking.

I was always the angry smoker because you non-smokers now had the whole restaurant and I had to go outside to satisfy my evil habit. You non-smokers didn't care much about my rights as a smoker.

But, whoa! What a different world it is now that I quit (after having smoked since before I was a teenager).

Smokers are smelly.

And rude.

I mean, why would they smoke right in front of me? Do I have a sign on that says, "I'd like to be subjected to stench and carcinogens?" I quit so I wouldn't have to be subjected to it.

Duh!

Once again, whatever side of an issue that I stand upon is the correct side. The other side is dead wrong and basically evil for thinking otherwise.

Before you condemn me as being the tactless, inconsiderate schmuck that I said I was, look in a mirror.

Could you have written this column?

I'm guessing you could have. We all could have.

So the next time you rear end a stopped car on Transit Road, think about things from the perspective of the person whose car you just hit — instead of blaming him for stopping.

And don't forget to feel bad for the people who are now going to be late for work since you just gummed up traffic.

I might be in that line and you just ruined my day.

Jerk!