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Not Respecting Opinions
"No," I responded to a friend of mine, "I do not respect your opinion." And it is about time we all start saying it.
If anything has become far too overdone in debate it is the oversensitivity we feel for our ideological opponents. It has almost become tradition to respect others' opinions. It's an automatic reaction to say "I respect your opinion," while what is being thought is: "You are wrong."
Should a black man respect the opinion of a Ku Klux Klan member who thinks he is inferior to other races? Should a woman respect the opinion of a man who thinks her only duty is to ensure his happiness, oh, and clean the toilets? Should I respect the opinion of a person who thinks it is his right to seize my belongings, my well-being?
This last question was the one under discussion recently with a friend. The topics of discussion were mainly economic. She favored taxation (by force), welfare (paid for by taxation), and the basic typical liberal economic stances (an exciting combination of taxation and force), noting, "It's just the right thing to do." I refused to just "agree to disagree" as a second cliche'd debate-ending tactic goes. She had long since wanted to agree to disagree.
I could not just let the debate end on that note. I could not just say that we have are own opinions, we merely disagree, and now we can go our separate ways. To do so is to give some form of indirect approval that one's opinion is valid in my opinion in some sense. To do so is to say if maybe one thing had been different, I might agree with her too. I had to be strong in my stance. I would not walk away letting her think that her opinion - that I exist for the disposal of others - is in some way, or in some form, a valid, moral, or acceptable premise.
I should "keep an open mind," she would remind me. If only I saw what benefits might come from my enslavement, I might jump on the bandwagon as well. But in order to have an open mind, I would have to have an open philosophy: some wavering set of guiding principles revolving only around whatever emotional state I might be at whatever time I may need them. I could not fully believe that man is not to be used at the forcible disposal of others. Nor could I believe that man has the right to be free, to live his life, or to love. Could I ever value something if I were to constantly judge it based on open-ended open-mindedness?
My problem is: I do believe that man has the right not to be enslaved by other men. Every political belief merely stems from that non-altering, close-minded philosophical stance. Every opposition to taxation and to welfare is but an extension of that stance. At the same time, I could get my ideological opponent to agree with my premise: that men do not have the right to use other men at their disposal. But quickly she admitted a contradiction when following through with her own political beliefs, and instead of battling that contradiction, she merely conceded that it was time to "agree to disagree."
But I could not. I could not respect her opinion on two counts. First, that her opinion was based on an anti-philosophy: none existed. She believed what she believed because she wanted to. And tomorrow she might believe the exact opposite of what she believed yesterday or today. I could not respect an opinion which intentionally refuses to be explored and avoids any rational explanation of its existence.
Second, because she was directly saying to me that my life was not my own. That to some degree, other men had control over my life, my future, my being. That is something I could never respect, nor let anyone - whether friend or enemy - believe I could. It is time to stand up for what we know to be right, and refuse to accept that which we know to be wrong. So no, I might not respect your opinion either.
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