It is becoming increasingly clear that some people are unwilling to accept the validity of any viewpoint that differs from their own.
In fact, some people believe that others should not be allowed to express any opinion that differs from theirs or do anything with which they disapprove.
We are getting into dangerous territory if we are willing to accept such a narrow view of freedom.
One recent example of unwillingness to have a mature, respectful dialog about an issue involves the explosion of controversy that erupted in response to an ad from Duluth Pack promoting the company’s concealed carry field satchel.
Clearly there are a variety of opinions about whether citizens should be allowed to obtain permits to carry firearms, and even among people who have such permits as to whether it is better to carry on one’s person or off-body in a bag or other accessory.
However, what struck me about the comments that were posted in response to the ad was the level of hysteria demonstrated by some people.
For context, it should be noted that Duluth Pack has been around for more than a century.
The legacy began with the practically indestructible Duluth Packs that were made for canoe camping in the northern wilderness.
Throughout its history, the company has continued to produce quality products at its Duluth facility. In addition to its wide range of packs and luggage, the company has offered products geared for hunters, such as gun cases and ammunition bags.
Perhaps that’s what makes the current outcry so surprising.
While focused on its core products, the company has continued to expand its product line over the years to meet the needs of its customers.
However, some people apparently don’t think the company should produce products of which they don’t approve.
One woman expressed outrage at the company selling what she described as “murder bags.”
Another said the company should “stop glorifying gross gun culture.”
Some of the people who commented showed great imagination.
For example, one said the bag is “ominous looking” and the photo “looks like someone about to open fire on a crowd,” even though there is nothing in the actual photo to support this conclusion.
Several people commented that the company has “lost their business” either permanently or “until this type of item is removed.”
There is, of course, no way of knowing if any of these people making threats ever purchased products from the company in the past, or would have in the future.
On the other hand, there were a lot of comments from people expressing support for the company, and indicating they planned to purchase the satchels or other items.
It was, however, disappointing that even in supporting the company, many of the people who posted comments felt compelled to attack those who were opposed to the product, and call them derogatory names.
Taken as a whole, the comments were polarized into two main groups.
Those who support concealed carry or Duluth Pack emerged as evil monsters who support mass murder of innocent victims, and those opposed to even the legal possession of firearms were branded as weak and emotional.
Some comments on both sides illustrated a lack of understanding and an unwillingness to accept other viewpoints.
For example, those who suggested the new bags will somehow cause people to go out and buy guns so they can carry them in public seemed not to realize that many law-abiding citizens are already carrying guns.
In 2016, 71,000 concealed carry permits were issued in Minnesota, bringing the total of valid permits in the state to 265,728.
Some people don’t seem to realize there are already people among their friends and neighbors who have concealed carry permits, and who may be packing when they are at community events, local businesses, and at their place of worship.
People who do support the right of citizens to possess guns sometimes overlook the fact that gun violence is an issue in this country, and other citizens have a right to be concerned about it.
What does seem clear is that there is no way we will be able to have a calm and respectful discussion of any issue as long as we insist on labeling everyone based on our perceptions.
Until we are prepared to acknowledge the right of others to their opinions, just as we cling to our own right to have an opinion, the gaps between us will continue to grow.
Hysterical attacks won’t solve any problems.
People need to settle the heck down.