Friday, January 25, 2013
Civil Debate: Gone Forever?
entire blog post), one of my friends thought I was being "hypersensitive"—which is his right to think, obviously—and told me to "lighten up"—which I find quite a bit more disturbing and insufferably condescending. At one time it would have been considered quite rude to tell someone to "lighten up" (or "you need to" do whatever you think they should do, as I also often hear); now, however, it is fairly ubiquitous and I do not care for it at all. I have written more than once on this blog about the constantly worsening lack of civility among humans in recent years and I don't presently see a way out of this spiral we're in. If you disagree with me on a point I am making or an opinion I hold, I totally accept your right to do so. If you wish to debate the point with me, I'm absolutely in favour of that—provided you come into the discussion from a position of having well-informed facts before you present them as such. But the moment you feel the need to disparage my opinion, thought process, information-gathering skills, intelligence or, especially, my level of emotional investment in whatever it is you disagree with—and decide to act on that "need"—you have immediately lost the battle. Your point is made no more valid by shouting me down or insulting me; quite the contrary: I feel you have invalidated your stance by coming into the discussion or conversation or thread from a position of hostility.
wrote a piece about the "Newtown Truther" idiots (see? I did it right there) which included words like "cartoonish", "nutters" and "mouthbreathers". Sarah read this piece through before I posted it and was jarred by my use of derogatory names for these people; she was of the opinion that it lost some of its power at those points and, of course, she was right. I was too angry to change it much, though, save from the removal of the single word "scum". I was reading it again today and, rather than making me feel outrage it mostly just made me feel...uncomfortable. Now, there are times when I think that making people feel uncomfortable should be the goal of a given opinion piece; I don't know, though, if that was one of those times. In any event I don't intend to go back and edit it as it is now an encapsulation of a moment in time. But for every time I "slip up" and let high emotions get in the way of something I write on here there are about a hundred times I manage to somehow wrestle them out of the picture (and sometimes onto other sites, such as Facebook, which is not a source of great pride for me). I guess what I am trying to say is that I understand it can sometimes be quite overwhelming trying to maintain lucidity and composure when faced with such rudeness and mean-spiritedness all around.
Storify" to link all of the comments on my Facebook posting together—including the "offensive" ones—and was intending to link to that here on my blog. This would have "outed" the person who was the catalyst for today's piece and that would have been just as wrong as the remarks he made were in the first place. There's no reason to single out any one person for this kind of behaviour: for one thing, as I've been saying here, it's a society-wide issue; for another, there have been several people in my circle of friends and, more hurtfully, in my family who have responded to some of my deeply-rooted opinions with such phrases as "get over it", "I challenge you to think", "you need to get a grip", or "I feel sorry for you". Some of them I have, reluctantly, "unfriended" after numerous warnings; some have "unfriended" me with no explanation; and some I still have enough respect for to keep them in my inner circle in spite of everything because they are basically outstanding people who simply seem to have lost their way in matters of discourse somehow. I have many failings in how I react to opinions I disagree with, but I do try very hard (to varying degrees of success) to be respectful of how I speak to my friends, especially on their own feeds or blog pages. I have tried to think of it this way: if you came into my home and insulted or belittled me, I would ask you to leave and you likely would not be invited back. I think of my Facebook Timeline or this blog site or other areas of the social media sphere I have carved out for myself to be like my home(s) on the internet; I expect to, at the bare minimum, be treated with respect in those places by the people whom I invite there of my own volition, if not necessarily by the "party crashers" out there on the internet. Perhaps you will think I am being "hypersensitive" and that is your prerogative; however, I don't think it's asking too much that you refrain from using that as a weapon should you wish to debate this post—or any other, for that matter.
And if you do decide to use it as a weapon, then you are stupid. You are a stupid person with a stupid face and stupid clothes and so's yer ol' man. There. I win. Huh. Who knew it could be that easy?