Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Shut Up! You're Wrong!

and racist, and stupid, and evil, and the very words you say are so hurtful that to merely hear them is an offense against all that is holy.

This is the state of polite discourse in this country.  We are so unwilling to accept the slightest possibility that everything we believe in is 100%, totally right, that we just shut the opposition up.  In my mind, if you can't even engage an argument, then the other side wins by default.  If your opinion is so weak, that you can't even listen to what someone else has to say then it's you who needs to shut the fuck up.  I really don't care how vile, wrongheaded or stupid the other side is - hell - if they're that stupid, the debate should be short.

I'm not talking about some Facebook comment argument that goes in circles 57 times, or someone who repeats the same thing over and over, or resorts to name calling.  I'm not even talking about politely not wanting to talk about a particular subject at this, or even any, time.

I'm talking about name calling, trying to get people fired, not letting people speak, shouting people down, banning speech, hate speech laws and all the other ways people try to shield themselves from opinions they disagree with.  Worse, trying to shield other people from hearing that there might be another side to the argument.  I think gays should marry, but there are a shit ton of people that think otherwise.  Calling them names, refusing to let them speak, calling for their firing...none of these are going to change their minds or heart.

I am 100%, solidly convinced that the minimum wage is incredibly harmful to exactly the people it is supposed to help, but I'll engage in debate about it anytime I have the time.  I can even accept that I might be wrong - that's why I want to keep talking about it!  To learn, and to educate (and to be able to better crush your argument when someone else brings the same thing up.)

Here are some things I'm talking about:


Since moving to the South I've learned a lot about racism.  I've learned a lot about prejudice.  You meet someone, get to know them, find their a good person, and then the "N" word drops.  Was I wrong about this person?  Are they evil?  No, not generally, they've just been raised a certain way, exposed to certain things, and never really been challenged in their beliefs.  I often learn that their beliefs are pretty shallow as well.  I know someone who would give the shirt off his back to anyone, black, white, gay, straight, trans...anything.  But he also had this nebulous, prejudiced idea about African Americans.  And he used the "N" word.  I was flummoxed.  Then you figure out that there's a lot more to it.  It seemed it was always either blacks he'd never met, or assholes who happened to be black that drew his ire.  It was ingrained, reflexive and completely invisible to him.  Over several years, and lots of conversations, I've not "fixed" him, but he thinks one hell of a lot different now than he did then.  Because I, and other people engaged with him.  I didn't judge his heart based on those beliefs.  I didn't belittle him or shun him, I talked to him.  I also didn't talk down to him about it.  Just because I found his beliefs to be repugnant didn't mean they weren't very real and very important to him.  They came from family, friends and loved ones.  You can't root out this kind of stuff with hate and anger and belittlement.  It just doesn't work.  And he's a great guy.  He just has some flaws, like all of us do.

**** (these means the following was added after the initial post)

An additional thought based on some Facebook reactions I've seen:  It seems like the line between someone you think is passionate and caring and someone you think is angry and deranged is your level of agreement with them.

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