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Books and tourist town sideshows produced by Ripley’s “Believe It … Or Not” have drawn in the incredulous for years, featuring attractions that seem too weird, crazy, or otherwise impossible to believe.

I haven’t needed a ticket to view such craziness lately. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has received dire emails bewailing Barack Obama’s election as something approaching the end of the world. A particularly disturbing (or disturbed) message arrived over the weekend, describing election results as a “body slam” to believers and a clear demonstration of the nation’s moral bankruptcy. The only potential good, the message implied, is that Obama’s election shows that America, like a drug addict, has hit “rock bottom,” deemed a necessary step in a national realization that the country needs to turn around.

I think many Americans probably felt the same way about the results of the current administration’s dismal eight-year record, which is why the present president became a pariah within his own party and “change” became the operative word for the election.

I was pleased by John McCain’s gracious concession speech, in which he pledged to work with the new president. I think he is a man of honor, and trust that he will. I couldn’t help but notice, however, that some of his own supporters booed. If he had won the presidency, I wonder if they still would have been so fickle, decrying the first decision that didn’t go their way?

While religious conservatives often act as if there are only two moral issues, some of the nation’s most narrow-minded folk seem to think there is only one acceptable ethnic identity. They responded to Obama’s election with racist graffitti and Ku Klux Klan-like scare tactics, gaining far more attention than their misbegotten ideology deserves.

Whether it’s a skin-head spewing hate-filled epithets or a fundamentalist Christian painting the poll results a national collapse, the intensity of the rhetoric reveals a scary level of tunnel-vision radicalism that would be more at home in Iraq than America.

In the U.S., we believe in free speech to the point that fear-mongers can say just about anything they want, so long as they don’t make specific threats. We can’t — and shouldn’t — try to squelch others’ right to say what’s on their mind. Neither, however, must we accept their shrill verdicts or support the organizations that provide their platforms.

It’s one thing to be a sore loser — it’s another thing to be a scary one.

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