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Life is full of disappointments and, in my opinion, our response to them is the real measure of us as individuals and as a nation; it’s easy to be content when things go your way. Using that as a yardstick, it’s obvious that much of America has become a sick society where too many people are self-centered extremists on too many issues.

As a perfect example I refer to the disgusting spectacle of numerous death threats directed at Judge Aaron Persky and his family over his recent sentencing of 20-year-old Stanford star swimmer Brock Turner to only six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious 23-year-old woman.

This column is not about the crime or sentence, there will be a gazillion words about both for years to come; this is about so many people in our society who are fanatical about all kinds of things.  No doubt the majority of the public who choose to speak out on the crime believe as I do, the sentence was too lenient. The far more serious problem is that more than a few of them responded with their own idea of justice – threats to kill the judge and/or his family, and too many of us just shrug off those threats and what they indicate.  

I wonder how many of those sitting on the sidelines ever received a serious death threat to themselves or their loved ones as I have. It was mailed to me, but predictably anonymous; I turned it over to the police.The serious ones are usually obvious, there is an unmistakable hate-filled theme.

You’d like to think that the persons making the threats are just degenerate cowards spouting off, and most of the time that’s the case; however, you also realize that the psychology it takes transmit a vile death threat is not that far from the psychology it takes to carry it out and your family members are not even the offending party, just innocent bystanders.

You can’t become paranoid about it, but there are enough incidents of irrational anger-inspired murder every year that neither can you merely laugh it off. There are always those who want to be famous or infamous to placate their personal nasty demons.

The problem is that our society has become stacked to the gunwales with mindless raging anger and dead-eyed sociopaths interested only in themselves. Key characteristics are the simultaneous existence of low self-esteem and a feeling of overwhelming superiority. The people making death threats typically hate their lives and blame others for all their troubles; they express it all by trying to terrify and occasionally fulfilling their evil daydreams.

Americans should ask themselves if those fanatics are the kind of people they would rather have as judges than honorable people who make an infrequent error and let a criminal off too lightly.