Yes, I do listen to opinions from the right — sometimes. I enjoy discussing things with people who have formed different opinions. I do not enjoy discussing things with people who simply swallowed an opinion and don’t even understand its underpinnings. These are the people who know what the Bible tells them, but have never read it; the people who take crop subidies but rail against government handouts; the folks who know that liberals are the same as socialists, but don’t know what either term means; the people who don’t want the government telling them what do do, but want it telling other people what to do; and so forth.

As for specifics, since letters to the editor are short I read all of the ones in our local paper.

I’m more selective about the longer opinion pieces.

  • First, I look at the picture of the commentator. If there’s foam about the mouth, I skip the piece entirely.
  • If it’s somebody whose style I generally can’t stand, I read the first few sentences to see what the subject is. If I decide it’s something I’m interested in, I read the last paragraph. If the beginning and the end imply that there is a reasonable argument in between, I’ll read the piece.
  • If, instead, the piece launches with a premise I consider absurd and immediately turns to ad hominem arguments (especially if there are quotation marks involved), I turn the page.
  • There are some commentators on the right that usually lay out a reasonable case for their positions in a reasonable tone of voice. I’ll read those. Mostly these are old-fashioned conservatives such as George Will, and they are in the minority these days. (Boy, do I miss William F. Buckley.)
  • As for the radio and TV commentators, I don’t think there are any that I can stand past a couple of syllables. I did listen to Bill O’Reilly for a while, but I gave up when I decided that his idea of a “no-spin zone” didn’t agree with mine. The lyrics to Sean Hannity’s theme song make me crazy. “Let freedom ring” is okay, but the implication that the white dove is symbol of war and retribution makes me gag.
  • I have no problem with people whose primary intent is to provide information, and only incidentally comment about their personal convictions.