28 April 2011

on opinions, and entitlement thereto

so! not only did the battalion publish my column, they published a response to it the next day!

do yourselves a favor and don't read all of the response. just watch this instead:

the only real point that he makes is "if you tolerate everything, you stand for nothing." this is a great point! but it's also totally irrelevant to everything else in the piece, which is a combination of fundamentalist outrage over the existence of queers and epic butthurt over how i define muster and how it relates to the way i see myself within the aggie community.

oh yeah, and apparently queers are reprehensible because by having sexytimes with one another we are apparently depriving people who don't exist of their...existence? i don't know, it's crazycakes.

anyway, discussion of this totally idiotic response to my (heartfelt, carefully written, extremely personal) column in the batt resulted in some honest musing on the true meaning of he's entitled to his opinion.

this is something that we tend to say when we reach logical impasses. it is, you might say, the civilized alternative to using violence to convert another good-faith actor to your own point of view. and under those circumstances, it's actually a pretty useful sort of semantic vacuum; agreeing to disagree means that neither of you loses face by giving up your position. it is a recognition that even if you don't agree with an argument, you can still respect it, because you respect the person making it.

my favorite band is cobra starship; if you think they're terrible, i may believe that you are in error, but i don't have the ability (or desire, really) to force you to change your mind. i can try to persuade you to like them by spamming you with pictures of victoria asher, but your tastes may just not be the same as mine. my enjoyment of them (as a band, and as people) isn't threatened by your lack of same. this is the way that reasonable people deal with minor disagreements about trivial things.

the problem comes when you try to extend this expression of respect to a larger realm of discussion. not only do the subjects of disagreement become less and less trivial, you also have no assurance that the other party is, in fact, a good-faith actor, and sometimes they actually offer compelling evidence that they are not. for instance: "I do not hate homosexuals; their lifestyle is offensive and against my beliefs."

(he also likens us to animals and strongly implies that we are, as a class, somehow dishonorable. winner!)

applying the "entitled to his opinion" label to this argument is fucking ludicrous. this dude does not respect me. he does not respect my right to pursue romantic and sexual relationships with consenting partners, even there is literally no possible way that my life or my lifestyle will affect him in even the slightest way. if he doesn't respect my right to live my life in the manner i choose, he doesn't respect my right to exist, and he certainly doesn't respect me. he doesn't even respect the love for the a&m family that we presumably have in common, since he seems to think that i can't possibly have opinions about muster that aren't somehow skewed by a political agenda or a pathological need for approval.

shit, dude, i don't need your approval. and i didn't need to bring muster into the discussion at all to talk about why SB 63-106 sucks, which you would probably know if you'd actually read my letter. but apparently your "i'm not a homophobe, but..." schtick has affected your reading comprehension.

that was mean. i shouldn't have said it. (but i'm not going to delete it.)

it's like math. if someone thinks that two plus two equals five, no matter how fervently they believe it, no matter how much or how often they fail to understand addition, it still isn't true. just because i can't beat the arithmetic into their heads doesn't make them any less wrong, and i am not obliged to take their obstinately ignorant, objectively wrong "opinion" seriously. moreover, there are certain circumstances where i absolutely should not waste any time pretending that i respect their right to be wrong. if i'm calculating the stress capacity for a highway overpass, for instance -- any task where getting the right answer is important, because getting it wrong will endanger others -- i would at best be wasting time and/or money and at worst be engaging in criminal negligence were i to extend any due consideration to their opinion.

not that i think killing the GLBT center would collapse highway overpasses, or anything. but how many men and women have to become the victims of discrimination and violence before people like this dude stop contesting our right to exist? how long are people are going to treat us as though maintaining that we should not be harassed and devalued and disadvantaged is asking for special treatment?

how long will it take for people to realize that the best way to reduce the necessity of places like the GLBT resource center is to stop attacking and complaining about it at every turn?

to sum up: you are entitled to the opinion that cobra starship sucks. you are not entitled to the opinion that other people's sexuality is any of your fucking business, or that you get to treat them differently because of it.

(cobras never say die, y'all)

1 comment:

MelG said...
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