As I pass by fish in barrels, I will often shoot them.

hoosung

Member
Chinese-China
You're not going to agree with me about all of the various mental habits and beliefs and behaviors I classify here as imaginary or fantastical. You may find me too judgmental about matters of deep personal conviction. As I pass by fish in barrels, I will often shoot them. But I don't consider all religion or all alternative belief systems or all conspiracy theories or all impossible dreams misguided. <-----Excess quote removed by moderator (Florentia52)----->

I am not sure what the underlined sentence As I pass by fish in barrels, I will often shoot them means here.

It means I like to comment on various things?
 
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  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    We have a common saying, 'It's like shooting fish in a barrel', meaning it's very easy – in fact, so easy that no sporting person would do it. So the writer is referring to this saying: they do very easy, unfairly easy things. Specifically here, I suppose, they make fun of ridiculous beliefs, and that sort of thing.
     

    hoosung

    Member
    Chinese-China
    Still, I'm quite confused about what it exactly means in this context.
    Does it mean 'to be judgmental about matters of deep personal conviction' is quite easy for the author? The author finds it easy or convenient to claim his views?
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Maybe, the writer having confessed that he's sometimes too judgmental, he's admitting that he sometimes takes "cheap shots" at people's beliefs?
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    We often say that it is unfair to make fun of anyone in an obviously weak or vulnerable position, or to criticise them harshly.
    The writer means that some people hold beliefs so silly that they are a very easy target for criticism.

    He says that even if the reader thinks he is being judgemental, he finds targets of that kind too tempting to resist, so he will often deliver his crushing criticism of them when he happens to find such beliefs being expressed.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Presumably (and we'd need to see more of the article to be sure) the writer is going to criticize serious things like major religions, but also criticize beliefs that most people would already consider completely ridiculous, which therefore don't need to be criticized – but the writer is going to shoot them anyway, because it's so easy.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Ignoring the rest of the paragraph... When I see something that is easy to do, involves no effort, etc, I often do it.
    If there's a ripe peach high in the tree out of reach, I ignore it, but if there is a ripe peach right in front of my face, I pick it.
     

    hoosung

    Member
    Chinese-China
    We often say that it is unfair to make fun of anyone in an obviously weak or vulnerable position, or to criticise them harshly.
    The writer means that some people hold beliefs so silly that they are a very easy target for criticism.

    He says that even if the reader thinks he is being judgemental, he finds targets of that kind too tempting to resist, so he will often deliver his crushing criticism of them when he happens to find such beliefs being expressed.
    Thank you so much. Now I get what the author intends to say.
     

    hoosung

    Member
    Chinese-China
    Presumably (and we'd need to see more of the article to be sure) the writer is going to criticize serious things like major religions, but also criticize beliefs that most people would already consider completely ridiculous, which therefore don't need to be criticized – but the writer is going to shoot them anyway, because it's so easy.
    Thank you for your further explanation.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Kurt Andersen (according to the web) is a political commentator, novelist, and host of Radio 360 on public radio. It's a fair guess that on the political spectrum he's solidly on the left. According to this article, the sentence in question is in the opening of the book. FANTASYLAND by Kurt Andersen | Kirkus Reviews

    Basically he's saying that where there are easy targets, he will shoot at them. This is what we call "taking potshots" politically or simply being highly critical of public figures in a glib kind of way. The sentence accomplishes one thing directly, which is to admit that he's something of an opportunist as a commentator. He takes the easy route. It accomplishes another thing indirectly, which is to assert his intellectual and observational superiority. At least that's my opinion.
     
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