I will kick this off by transcribing a conversation that I had with an actual live person, who for the purposes if this blog will be known as ‘Literary Device’.
Literary Device: …look mate, at the end of the day, boat people are criminals that have jumped the queue and they deserve to be locked up.
Me: Actually, people that arrive by boat seeking asylum are mostly legitimate refugees fleeing persecution which is totally legal, and there’s actually no real queue for them to jump in the first place.
Literary Device: Get fucked mate it’s my opinion.
^ Actual conversation that legitimately happened.
Aside from the fact that this person’s opinion was factually incorrect, the implication after a bit more back and forth was that his opinion was ‘valid’, and that it was worth something, and that as such I must respect it.
And worse still, they were offended. OFFENDED. As though that offense somehow carries meaning and implies that I must retract my disagreement, regardless of the fact that I could simply not give an actual fuck about his offense taken. I believe that Steven Fry said it best about offense and how irrelevant it is.
For an opinion to be valid and important though, it needs to be backed by logic and fact. And, you know, stand up to a simple fact check as a bare minimum. Some areas are grey by definition, are steeped in philosophical debate, and can have two or more legitimate sides to the argument that all have equal claims to the moral high ground and Righthood (capital R, this is some legit language over here). I love that sort of robust debate.
On the other hand though, there are serious discussions that are ongoing in the political and scientific sphere and in society in general (just check your Facebook feed for examples) that require serious thought and discussion, but that are often seriously and infuriatingly derailed by that squealing, nails on the chalkboard voice in the corner, shouting for acknowledgement with no legitimate claim to it.
Lord a’mercy are there examples that stubbornly survive, clinging to the sole of humanity’s shoe like so much gum with a bus ticket and a ciggy butt smooshed together.
Australian senator Cory Bernardi back in 2013 said that same sex marriage will lead to demands for polygamy, and recently broadened that to beastiality. As though homosexual relationships are a fad, a foray into outrageous sexual freedom and opulence that transcend mere love between two people. His arguments came relatively early in the piece, preceding our current discussions around marriage equality like some kind of prescient fundamentalist Rainman.
|Course he’s marrying his third wife and budgerigar at 5 o’clock.|
Another Australian senator Eric Abetz has also hilariously claimed that legitimising same sex marriage will create an attack on the rights of those who oppose it; that those who oppose same sex marriage face the very real prospect of having to face legal fees when they choose to challenge it in court. You read that right. An attack on the rights of those who oppose same sex marriage. An attack on the rights of those who are attacking the rights of other people, and their rights to attack the rights of other people. I’m trying, but I’m not sure how I can possibly make that sound stupider than it actually is. He also rode that polygamy train with old m8 Bernardi. Also Asia hasn’t done it yet.
It is the opinion of young Earth creationists that the Earth is between 5000 and 10 000 years old, despite hundreds of years worth of inscrutable evidence to the contrary. This evidence cannot be scruted.
In recent news, The Trump Organization lawyer Michael Cohen has helpfully provided his opinion in what can only be described as a crescendo of stupidity that a man by definition cannot rape his wife. Whoops, have another crack at that one mate. That certainly looks like an opinion that you do not have a right to.
And finally on the home front, after a recent spot of young rambunctiousness by young tennis stars Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic (referenced in a recent blog post by myself, perhaps you’ve read it) Australia’s favourite Hans Moleman lookalike Dawn Fraser offered her unsolicited opinion that the two young tennis stars did not belong in Australia if they were going to act in the way that they were, and that they should go back to where their parents came from. Mate, Dawn, mate, aside from offering my own opinion that being a dickhead is quite Australian, your ‘I’m not racist but…’ response is certainly not what I would call a logical argument. That certainly may be your opinion, but your opinion sucks, is invalid, and certainly should not be acknowledged.
And you know, that’s really at the crux of this recent spate of societal endumbening. Not only are all opinions equal, but even worse all opinions must be acknowledged and are above reproach. It was articulated recently in a really really well named article “No, it’s not your opinion. You’re just wrong.” that the difference between opinion and misconception is often overlooked, and more and more frequently facts and an uninformed bystanders opinion are seen as being equally important.
For shame, humanity.
Not only is this trend extremely frustrating, but it contributes to the perpetual dumbing down of our lives and serves only to mislead the easily mislead. There’s some easy targets out there folks. You only have to look to your Facebook/Twitter/Insta/Tumblr feed to see how easily disseminated and consumed this stuff is.
So cast off the shackles of polite discourse and feelings-sparing and shout out as one voice:
“NO, YOUR HOROSCOPES ARE NOT A LEGITIMATE SOURCE OF PERSONAL INSIGHT. THAT IS INCORRECT”
“NO, CLIMATE CHANGE IS NOT ‘JUST A THEORY’ BASED ON DODGY SCIENCE, THAT IS INCORRECT.”
“NO, THAT NATURAL REMEDY AND CLEAN EATING WILL NOT CURE YOUR BRAIN CANCER, THAT IS INCORRECT AND DANGEROUS.”
Sure, you’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re also entitled to receive scathing rebuttal in which your very being is set alight with magical truth words.