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first sermon of the new year

Its really easy to (disagree) when all of your disagreements are theoretical - http://ashleighthelion.tumblr.com/post/58498008281/blacksentai-white-dudes-have-this-thing-where

This describes the problem with the idea of a friendly disagreement, where the issues involved are anything but friendly, very well.

To my mind, this also connects to a similar problematic concept: "agreeing to disagree", where both people are supposed to accept that they'll never be able to change the other's mind. Supposedly a model of temperance and fair-mindedness, I'd argue that this, too, is a luxury that many can't afford. I'd argue that agreeing to disagree, far from a virtue, is a reactionary and politically stifling concept that is counterproductive to social progress.

It's one thing if friends come from different places of origin, and bring their own perspective on topics. That's to be expected, even encouraged. Friends -- people in general -- should be able to have animated discussions and even arguments, and not always come to a perfect agreement. But the reason for that is because truth is a work in progress. It's not because people should be defending their mutually exclusive territory. Agreeing to disagree would have us start at different places... and never leave those points of origin. Yes, our personal issues need to be acknowledged. But from there, they need to be surpassed. Debate is a process of improvement, not a way to affirm atomism.

"Judge, and be prepared to be judged" - Ayn Rand, in a rare lucid moment

"I'll call you on your shit, please call me on mine" - Propaghandi

Progress happens when we are respectful of our frequent need to have our presumptions disrespected.

It's easy to stereotype radical groups as closed-minded, unwelcoming, and only concerned with a single set of issues. Some groups that call themselves radical are indeed only radical in the most narrow sense of the word; it's all the patriarchy's fault, they say, or it's all capitalism's fault. But radicalism and multidimensional analysis are not exclusive. Radicalism, if it's worthy of the name, is willing to keep digging. It's receptive to new ideas, flexible in its thinking, and willing to debate, provided those debates are constructive.

In my experience, liberal circles have been the most silencing, and the least willing to work towards uncomfortable truths. On one hand, they've put things up for debate that really shouldn't be, in the name of fairness and inclusion; on the other, they've kept some subjects verboten, in the name of not pushing people out of their comfort zone. But growth and development has everything to do with being pushy. With limited time and limited resources, advocates can't afford to water themselves down, nor to bog themselves down in second-guessing based on how other people might react. Advocates should push in a smart, contextually aware way, yes. But they should push. As far as you push others, that's as far as they might come along with you. While, as far as you don't push, that's as far as they'll never move. You do them no harm by pushing, and though they might disappoint you, you do yourself no harm by being disappointed. For advocates -- and anyone who thinks along political lines should be an advocate of something -- a corollary to being prepared to be judged might be this: allow yourself to risk disappointment in others, as long as they might pleasantly surprise you.


Jan. 16th, 2014 06:57 am (UTC)
I guess I can live with being extreme but not unreasonable, most people would certainly consider me unreasonable as well as extreme, I should take what I can get.
But I'm not going to tell you to censor yourself on my behalf.
Thank you, and likewise.

You're right that sex offender was the wrong word for me to have used, I let myself get carried away and borrowed it from your post as a contextual synonym for rapist even though I know it's anything but.
The person who encouraged my anarchism, including anarchism in this area, the most is a rape survivor.
It's entirely possible that if I'd known someone in that situation, my opinions would've turned out closer to yours than to mine. I guess I'll never know. But I can see how that would've made an impression on you.

The people I have in mind were super close. Close enough that I remember the specific details they felt comfortable enough to share with me. I'm sure that didn't help. The phrasing one of the attackers used to make fun of my friend for having trusted him, before "stealing their light", as I'll always remember my friend put it.

To work on that takes another skill set entirely.
I know, I wish I lived in a society that valued the skill set to help the victims more than the skill set to help the attackers. :P But I'm not in charge of which kind of society I live in, and I know enough about skill sets that you didn't pick the one you have anymore than I picked the one I have. I don't have the skill set to argue rationally about this, but yes, it is a comfort that your priority as to this would be what you say it is.

That's something I believe that may be in a different universe from you.
You may be very surprised by that... I hate suicide every bit as much as I hate rape, for the exact same reasons, I just can't disconnect the two. It's the life of the victim, in situations like this, which is "in here" for me, more than the rapist's, though. I'm likelier to blame the rapist for causing the pain in the first place than the suicidal person for resorting to that to get rid of it, if that makes sense.

I only need you to be as comfortable with this as you need me to be. It's difficult for me to imagine that, knowing what you now know about me, you wouldn't think of me as a monster.

All these theoretical political ideas and lively debates effect real people, and I won’t be friends with someone who disagrees with me on them...
I'd argue that agreeing to disagree, far from a virtue, is a reactionary and politically stifling concept that is counterproductive to social progress.

That was what I read as you giving me an ultimatum: either engage the issue I'd been dodging, or go. If that's not what that was, then so much the better.

This has been extremely draining for me to talk and think about. I'm overwhelmed with schoolwork and RL entanglements as it is, and in a context in which I'm having to absorb and retain large amounts of unfamiliar information in a short time, this has been having quite a way of gripping the mind, for one thing. For another, I'm recognizing a lot of red flags that led to my previous breakdowns forming, and I can't overemphasize how much I want to get out of this without your outright enmity, so I feel that a small emotional buffer might help me develop the critical distance to address this with appropriate nuance.
Jan. 20th, 2014 05:49 am (UTC)
FWIW, it's taking me some time to get around to this too, both because it's hard work for me and because I don't trust my reactions in the heat of the moment.

I think my argument was an overly-broad generalization; I still think there's a lot of truth to it, but I may have to figure out how to express it in a less clumsy way.

Having limits on how far your sympathy goes seems like a normal part of being human to me. That's not something I can agree or disagree on, it's something to be worked around. I'd argue that our individual biases have to be transcended for the good of others, but that also includes seeing where other people are biased and what vulnerabilities those biases come out of, if that makes any sense.

I don't mean to blame the victim or apportion out less help to them than to the people who hurt them. But I don't think help is a zero-sum game, either. It's very often the case that the more that the people that need help get help, the less they'll hurt other people.



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