Tuesday, August 06, 2013

A jerk is a jerk

Lately I've noticed a tendency that's hard to quantify exactly. Basically it's the "blaming a group/opinion for the bad actions of a few" but it's almost a little more pervasive than that.

Recently, there was a bit of an online argument (I know, I know) that I was involved in that really seemed to center around one person (the other guy) basically assuming anybody with a particular opinion only knew how to express said opinion in a rude and insensitive way.

This is a bit like when people get mad at Christians, atheists, vegetarians, or vegans. Or even feminists or people who advocate for equal rights. They say things like "vegans are always yelling at you for eating what you want to" or "feminists just screech at men for being men all the time."

But the thing I see fewer and fewer people understanding is that it's not the opinion, group, or stance that's the problem. It's that the person they're talking to is a jerk.

If a vegetarian is out to eat with a meat eater, and the vegetarian screams "murderer" at the top of their lungs when the omnivore orders, then they're a jerk. If the person who eats meat waves their burger in a vegan's face and tries to trick them into eating cheese, then they are a bad person. It's not that omnivores are bad people, it's that one particular person.

If an atheist says anybody who has religion is "irrational and stupid" and is constantly teasing others about their "sky god" then they are being pompous and stupid. If a Christian walks around telling people they're going to hell and is constantly hassling them to go to church, they're being narrow minded and stupid.

I would love it if we all stopped acting like it was and took the time to call people out on their personal actions and behaviors and not lashed out at other people who happen to think the same way as that guy you know who is always yelling at people.

It used to be that people could see the difference, that they took the time to make sure when they complained they were being clear about who, what, and why. It's not even time consuming, it's a matter of word choice. But lately, more and more I'm running into people not just being vague about their complaints but actually meaning it as a condemnation of the entire group. That's what I was dealing with in this argument, where I tried to point out the motivations of the particular group of people in question I was constantly met with "no, it's just rude, they're just jerks, they're insensitive. To feel that way is insensitive."

There are some opinions that do make you a jerk. Being racist or homophobic is just wrong and it is insensitive. Not liking muenster cheese is not one of those opinions.