Are we “extreme” because we believe a baby has a right to be born? Are we “extreme” because we believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman? Are we “extreme” because we believe in the Second Amendment? The governor says we have no place in New York. Mr. Cuomo, with his intellectual superficiality paints conservatives as homophobes, anti-women, and clinging to their guns. It sounds to me like he wants to curtail free thought, not allow contradiction, and scorn anyone with a different opinion.
In my own opinion, the writer is extreme in two out of three cases. If she embraces Cuomo's characterization of her Second Amendment position as "pro-assault weapons," then she's an extremist. If she can believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman but not in any sort of marriage between people of the same sex, she's an extremist. On abortion I concede that moral objections can always be raised, while insisting that they don't necessarily dictate the law in a democratic republic. I can understand, however, why many women may find the writer's opposition to abortion no less extreme than her homophobia or her Second Amendment absolutism.
Overall, the criticism of Cuomo the Younger echoes the attack on liberal "intolerance" -- though many in New York still see the governor as far from liberal on many issues -- by the opponents of equal rights for homosexuals. Gay equality remains the major flashpoint because the idea behind it remains the most revolutionary. Homophobic reactionaries recognize that gay-rights advocates want to close the debate on the moral and legal status of homosexuality for all time. For one side, progress will mean that full civic equality for homosexuals is no longer subject to debate. For the other, such a result will be decadence, not progress, and when the patriarchs of the past have opined on an issue it must always be open for debate -- at least until the patriarchs' side wins. Gay rights aside, however, it's hard to feel any chilling effect in the governor's comment unless you, as an "extremist," have cultivated your persecution complex. To the extent that Cuomo is a liberal, he's never going to suppress opinions in favor of assault-weapon ownership, or against abortion or gay marriage. All he was really saying was that those opinions aren't going to win in his state. If he can back that up, that still wouldn't render him or New York intolerant, unless intolerance now means you can't get everything you want. If anything, the zero-sum thinking of reactionaries who equate disagreement with their beliefs with intolerance of them may betray their own fundamental intolerance of disagreement, since they seem to perceive disagreement as inherently hostile to them. Both parties are guilty of this, but Republicans once tried, sometimes, to appear more thick-skinned about such things, if only in order to portray the other side as inexcusably thin-skinned. Today, however, Republicanism seems more and more like a perpetual raw nerve, hypersensitive to every inferred slight. That may be one of the most reliable signs that they're losing in the long term despite any short-term boost their rage gives them.