Friday, 27 December 2013

Let's Stop Attacking People and Work On Their Ideas

I am a vocal feminist and liberal - but I'm not an angry one. I prefer to hold good men up for praise than bad ones up for persecution.

I prefer civil debate to I AM RIGHT AND YOU MUST LISTEN TO ME style shouting.

Because people prefer to listen to positive things. Polite and respectful things.

The problem seems to be that we find it difficult to separate people from their views, opinions and ideas. You may hold views that I strongly disagree with, but that doesn't necessarily make you a bad person. And that is where a lot of us fall down.

When we fail to separate the person from the views that they hold we enter into a debate of futility. We fall into attacking the person, rather than trying to change their views. Here is a list of a few words that most liberals would agree need to stop being used against people:

Slut, faggot, nigger, whore, paki, dyke.

I'd like to add 2 more:

Bigot and Misogynist.

If you want someone to listen to your views on equal marriage - don't call them bigotted for not agreeing. That is attacking the person, not their views. People don't like to listen to people who think they're better than them.

When we use these words against our "oposition" we're doing exactly what we're trying to stop them doing. We're using language to isolate and humiliate them. "You called me a slut? Well you're a bigot" "You dehumanise me, and I'll dehumanise you right back" 

Let's take the moral high ground - when someone calls you a slut, or a fag, or any other word - tell them why they're wrong. I have watched seeds take root in a person's mind when I've taken this approach.

Rather than calling him a twat when he told me "You're not doing yourself any favours you know - wouldn't you rather people talk to your face" I spent about an hour talking with him, breaking down his ideas until he no longer had a retort to my argument. That was the moment. Right there. When he realised he didn't have any real REASON to believe these ideas he was trying to push on me.

At the time I was just smug because I'd won the argument. But now I'm glad I had the opportunity to engage in a civil debate with a stranger outside a night club. He listened to what I was saying - because I didn't attack him, only his ideas.

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