Thursday, 28 February 2013

Don't Be An Asshole

Some of the dialogue around issues of racism and bigotry is infuriating and infantile.

People who say “[insert minority] are hyper-sensitive”, or “Political Correctness is bullshit and inhibits communication”, what are you really thinking? What right are you so determined to exercise?

Imagine you meet someone and a debate arises on the merits or otherwise of the death penalty. You might wonder why that other person is so strident and seems to have such a personal stake in things. And imagine that when you deliver your reasoned, logical, copiously well-informed argument against the death penalty, the other person bursts into tears. You might think, reprovingly, “Don’t be so emotional”.

But wouldn’t you also disengage from that topic of conversation, knowing it is so upsetting to someone else? Even if you thought that person was being ridiculously sensitive, would you press on regardless?

And if it comes to light that the other person’s context is that they lost a loved one to violent crime, would you ignore that and continue with your unassailable argument? If so, you are an asshole.

Don’t get me wrong. You have a right to be an asshole. You are legally entitled to ignore people’s feelings, and their specific contexts, and to continue being an asshole.

But why would you want to? Who sets out to be an asshole, and then loudly proclaims that other people have no business telling you not to be an asshole? No one that I want to hang with.

If using a term to describe a group of people causes some members of that group anguish, or pain, or anger, and you keep doing it regardless of what you know of that group’s history of marginalization, deprivation, or torture at the hands of established society, then you are an asshole.

Don’t be an asshole.

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