Friday, June 6, 2014

A Word on Discussion of Controversial Topics

If someone makes a 'silly' question or statement, like...
"Why should we let the immigrants stay?"
"I don't think the killer guy was a misogynist."
"Why do gay people have to hold hands in public?"

...I feel like the following ways of addressing them, which I have actually seen people I (had) consider(ed) smart use, are ineffective:
"I'm not even going to ADDRESS that OUTRAGEOUS misogynist/homophobic/transphobic/racist statement/question."
"Up yours."

If someone makes a question or statement that is not in line with your views, even if most people would agree that that person is an idiot, then make your point against theirs, if they posit any. If they don't back up what they say, make your points anyway. If you think making your points will not change their mind (e.g., if they are making a rhetorical insult), then why are you talking to them? Maybe they would listen, because people listen to even-sounding people.

Also, scary, but, maybe you don't have any points, or the points by the other side are weirdly on-point, and that's why you are going from discussing to your Plan B. Not something we like to admit, but wouldn't you appreciate it if a particularly unreasonable person with opposing viewpoints to yours let that thought cross their own mind? You would because it would collectively bring you to a Greater Understanding.

I'm not saying this because I necessarily think everyone should be nice and kumbaya. But how else would progress even be made if we don't channel our debate-fury into intellectual ammo instead of "omg, you're dumb, congrats on your inferiority because you are dumb and Don't Understand, even though I don't believe in superiority/inferiority lol"? Liberal views like what I and a lot of others I know hold are often considered RADICAL in other, if not MOST, places. Give your viewpoint some good PR, in case you are actually invested in defending the fate of [group of living beings / idea].