Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I Don't Have to Respect Your Opinion

What's that, you say?  You refuse to accept the literal mountains of scientific evidence that establish the factual nature of evolution because your religion says God did it all?  You mean you want to turn back the clock and oppress and deny someone basic human rights because their existence doesn't jibe with your personal prejudices?  You refuse to have your kids vaccinated because in your opinion an actress who never made it past High School told you there are poisons in most shots, and besides, what do medical professionals know anyway?   You refuse to accept the government's own numbers regarding male victims of rape and abuse, because everyone knows women have it worse and besides, men should just man up and be quiet?


And you refuse to listen to counter-arguments because you have a right to your opinion, and I have to respect those opinions?  That we'll just have to agree to disagree?


Well, in that case, let me just say:  you are seriously fooling yourself.


Yes, you have a right to your own opinions, and I must and do respect your right to those opinions, but I am under no obligation to respect those opinions themselves.  No obligation at all.  And as for agreeing to disagree, how about we don't do that either.  While you do have a right to your opinion, I have a right to point out that your opinion is stupid, and that your insistence on holding it -- especially holding it in the face of contrary evidence that clearly shows your opinion is wrong -- means you are a dumbass.


I see people say these sorts of things all the time when debating over certain issues.  Civil rights (especially for homosexuals), evolution, food safety (especially GMOs), men's rights and violence against men, vaccinating your kids, even history itself.  The problem is, these are not areas where there are gray spots.  People believe what they want to believe, and the facts can go fuck themselves if the facts disagree.


The problem is, these are not areas where there is a lot of room for differing opinions.  Civil rights, for example, should be universal and if you're in favor of denying other people rights because your holy book says you should, then your holy book is wrong, and so are you.  Evolution has been so well-investigated over the last 150+ years that there is absolutely no way its not true, so don't bother arguing against it.  If you think anyone getting raped or beaten is justified, or that the victims deserve to be ignored and marginalized, regardless of their gender, then you seriously need psychological help.  And if you think you are doing some good for your kids by refusing them their shots, then you need to have your kids taken away from you because you are a shitty parent who is endangering their lives.


And that's not my opinion.  All of those things I just said is backed up by hard, cold fact.


Which means believing otherwise is simple stupidity.  And why the hell should I ever respect simple stupidity?


Now, here is something I will concede:  there is no way to force someone to agree with a fact if they absolutely do not want to agree with it.  Doing so is just another form of dogmatic indoctrination, which is the very stupidity we need to cure.  People need to take the step toward education and knowledge themselves or else they'll never learn.


But remember that opinions can be wrong, even when they are baseless.  As for respect, that's a two-way street, folks.  This bullshit about "you have to respect my opinion" is really just a passive-aggressive method of attempting to avoid disagreement.  Its the polite way of saying, "I'm going to listen to you, but the truth is I'm going to ignore everything you say.  But have fun talking."  Sorry, but I think I'd rather have you argue with me, thanks.


People cement their opinions and hold them close, especially when these opinions are related to the individual's moral compass (such as religious beliefs).  Changing those opinions requires the person to acknowledge that their basic worldview is incorrect, and people generally don't do that easily.  I acknowledge this.  The problem is, due to there being so many different people and so many differing opinions, inevitably, some of those opinions will be just plain stupid.


The ability to form and hold our own opinions based on our knowledge and experience is one of the most fundamental freedoms human beings enjoy.  I will defend that freedom, even if I disagree with you, as far as I can.  But if your opinions fly in the face of logic, fact, and common sense, then while your right to hold the opinion is still sacrosanct, your opinion itself is worthless, and I feel no need to respect it at all.


And I have a right to tell you this, because I have a right to my opinions too.

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