There is an asymmetry afoot that is threatening to annoy the heck out of me. Nice people decline to give opinions and assholes just say what’s on their asshole minds. This is, of course, a generalization but the scenario is a common one for me. I got banned from IMWAN and you can see a bit of my reaction by clicking the tag “IMWAN sucks” to display only those articles. I might have been banned for blogging and retaining the first blog about IMWAN sucking after I got let into IMWAN a month or so later. I might have been banned for baiting the admin who disliked me. I might have been banned for identifying clearly as an Atheist. I certainly wasn’t banned for speaking my opinions in an excessively slanderous or hateful way. Look to the political threads on IMWAN to see speech at least as strong as any of my comments.
But that’s not the main point, it’s just a brick in the wall of it.
I’ve met a few friends of a particular friend who are highly opinionated about their political beliefs. Her friends aren’t alone in this behavior. There were people who did it about conservative issues. There are now people ranting about Democrats and the Liberal agenda. I’m not weighing the relative merits here. I am saying these people have strong, outspoken opinions about politics. I tend to keep my silence because I can accept that their opinion exists. I know I do not share their opinions. It’s very easy for me to tell. My silence is my complaint.
It is also a brick.
I mentioned that I might have been banned for being an atheist. I was banned twice from IMWAN. The first time happened immediately after having posted a new thread surveying belief and how a person reconciled their belief with a respect for people without the same belief. I was banned and the thread was discarded, so I have no evidence except for my girlfriend knows I signed up and knows I was subsequently booted. An insider can look at the member list at different times. In the spirit of my thread, I introduced myself as an atheist and having great respect and value for other people choosing different paths. The thread served two purposes, to ask a question I wanted to ask and to introduce myself. So when I was banned, it was clear that Linda (the username of the admin involved) was banning an atheist.
This is a brick beside the first brick.
When I got into IMWAN for the second time, I left the subject alone. These folks are friends of the comic book community and so am I. I hopped on someone else’s Atheist related thread. I added my two cents for people who didn’t seem to understand what atheists do at an atheist convention. (We party because we are among friends) I jumped on other threads and made some chuckles and bothered some people. I could list a few people I know I politically will never agree with, but I don’t mind that. I’m used to living in a world where I prefer some folks to others.
I mentioned my first banning a number of times, but it was taken as a joke because banning doesn’t normally happen like it happened to me. I’m not mad, it’s a good joke. You happen to be under the protection of a benevolent dictator when you aren’t outspoken like me. At one point a member of IMWAN said they thought my original thread sounded like a great thread and I should do it again. So I did. Only I had to rewrite it from scratch so it was probably a bit different as well.
The brick here is that many of the folks I thought were very reasonable and well adjusted mentioned that they weren’t comfortable answering. Nice people don’t go on about their beliefs. Beliefs are personal. Assholes talk about them out loud. I’m polarizing it. I didn’t get the feeling that they thought I was an asshole. Except Linda. And my opinion of Linda is a mirror of that opinion.
So here’s the wall.
If only the obnoxious people say their mind, then the ordinary people cannot be represented or considered. So I offer some rules of conduct. If I ask your opinion, I shouldn’t then and there dispute it. Rule #1: Discover or Debate, but not both. If I say my opinion, I shouldn’t then expect you to agree. Rule #2: Each person is entitled to their own opinions. And lastly, if I say that my opinion of your opinion are at odds, I can illustrate why information leads me to pick my position over yours, but I may have to agree to disagree on the actual initial opinions. Rule #3: Allow truces.
Next time those fellows go on and on about conservatives, I think I should be entitled to say that I actually think differently. Next time somebody invites me to a church, I think I’m entitled to say kindly that churches don’t suit me because I am a decided atheist. And next time I feel like volunteering that I’m an atheist, I’m entitling the other person to divulge their own beliefs without fear of repercussion or banning. There’s a trick to beliefs of course that beliefs do have an obligation to yield to some measure of courtesy. But that trick has been widely accepted at this point.
I’m an atheist. You are safe. I encourage you to think your own thoughts and come to your own conclusions. Please feel free to comment with some sort of introduction of who you are and what you believe. I think knowing how my peers think is important to my happiness and understanding of my existence.
Thanks for reading.