As amazing as it seems in this age of 24-hour-a-day punditry, there are still issues about which it is permissible not to have an opinion.
For instance, I won't be drawn into the debate over the relative merits of locally grown, organic broccoli versus the chemicalized version produced at factory farms. That's because I refuse both to eat broccoli and to engage in pointless arguments about the alleged superiority of each camp's noxious weeds.
I'm not taking sides on the question of what soccer team is the best in the world, for the simple reason that if I were forced to choose between watching soccer and a home-shopping channel, I'd pick the latter. I'd also be hard pressed to name even two soccer clubs (Man U may be one, although I have an uneasy feeling that could be a gay-porn Web site).
Team Edward? Team Jacob? If you've taken a stand on this one and you're not a hormonally hyped teenage girl, you need immediate psychiatric help.
There are, however, issues on which nearly everyone has an opinion: abortion, same-sex marriage, the Family Circus comic. These positions may be straightforward (Bil Keane should be imprisoned where he can never get near another drawing board) or nuanced (Bil Keane should be allowed to continue producing Family Circus only if he agrees to be soundly thrashed by the members of Man U, regardless of whether it's a soccer team or a gay-porn site).
There's another topic about which normal people have little difficulty deciding where they stand: gun control. Notice I said "normal people," a phrase I chose after careful consideration. That's because there exists a class of human beings that has a lot of trouble picking sides on this one. I suppose it would be impolite, not to mention politically incorrect, to refer to these folks as "abnormal people." So I'll use a slightly less pejorative term:
Two leading contenders for governor have staked out positions on gun control that, when translated into English, amount to this:
They believe whatever you want them to believe.
Democrat Steve Rowe and Republican Bruce Poliquin have dithered around to the point where their stands might be considered acceptable to fanatics who support compulsory gun ownership for every red-blooded American over the age of four, as well as to those nuts who want a ban on all firearms, as well as slingshots, peashooters, and ping-pong paddles. And everybody in between.
In January, the candidates appeared at a forum sponsored by the Associated General Contractors of Maine. During a "lightning round," in which answers were limited to yes or no, they were asked this question: "Have you ever viewed gay porn on a Web site called Man U?"
Sorry, wrong question.
The actual query was "Do you support mandatory background checks on the purchase of a firearm?"
Rowe said "No," but later said something else. Sorta.
Poliquin said "Yes," but then revised that to . . . well, it's hard to tell.
After Rowe was taken to task by Rosa Scarcelli, another Democratic candidate for governor, for endorsing a gun-control position that she claimed labeled him as soft on domestic violence, he responded thusly: