We all know a certain segment of society that for the sake of this family newspaper we'll kindly call jerks.
They do a lot of things to annoy, inconvenience and even harm the rest of us. They pull out onto U.S. 1 without looking for oncoming traffic. They drive 20 mph under the speed limit in the left-hand lane -- and with their brights flooding through our back window when driving at night.
They leave diapers in the parking lot of Winn-Dixie. They don't stop talking during movies. They ignore their misbehaving children at the beach while they're off partying and socializing with friends.
We have a problem in this world because, more than ever, we tolerate, coddle and even encourage jerks to the point where we're becoming a society of jerks.
Recent news has slapped us in the face with this reality.
Some of our candidates for elected office are unabashed jerks, and they're not afraid to show it. They're loud, disrespectful, rude and ruthless. They've taken discourse to unreached lows, and we're months away from the conventions. It can only get worse.
Then there are the jerks who disagree with the jerks running for office so much that they're willing to commit violence to show how much they disagree with the candidates' jerk views. They're actually even worse jerks. It's not against the law to be a jerk, so you're a huge jerk if you beat up, throw eggs and shout down people exercising their right to free assembly who want to hear their jerk speak.
The leaders of our established political parties are largely to blame. They spent so many years not getting anything done at the behest of their respective special interests that jerks began looking like the answer to our country's problems.
The current crop on the campaign trail were born by Republican and Democrat parents so desperate for a bad-seed child that they made one in the lab. Now the jerks are having buyer's remorse because they've lost control of their mutant creation.
But the worst kind of jerk is the evil kind who inflicts violence and mass death. Instead of judging and condemning these people for who they are, we try to figure out how they became jerks. In the process, we fight with each other, becoming jerks ourselves, when we should be looking for solutions and becoming better people and making society better.
There have been so many of these jerks inflicting so much horror and causing so much sadness that a line has been crossed. Their feelings, motivations and even mental states shouldn't matter to the rest of us anymore. Factoring in the latter insults the many people suffering from varying degrees of mental illness who cringe at the idea of violence as a means or an end to any problem.
Today, the notion of free will has come into question, leading some quantum physicists, psychiatrists and psychologists to believe jerks simply don't have a choice. It was written in their genetic cards to bother, hurt and kill the rest of us.
We disagree. You can decide not to be a jerk. It's not that hard.