Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch

Principles =/= Insults

This is a phenomena I’ve noticed for sometime, and it came up again in a discussion (the subject of which is actually pretty petty and doesn’t really matter) where the discussion got fairly intense, but for the most part remained polite. It involved someone tarring an entire group of people involved in an activity said person didn’t like and didn’t understand, with a broad, insulting, nigh legally actionable brush.

Essentially, the person in question doesn’t like or understand something that a huge number of people are involved in, and which, by the way is a perfectly legal activity as practiced by the majority of people involved.

Said people involved with the activity, showed up en masse (electronically) to say, "Hey, what we do isn’t illegal, whether you like it or not. And we don’t appreciate being called criminals or scum, thanks."

There involved a big hoo ha, wherein said person’s supporters backed them up about what criminals and scum we were, and we very civilly (for the most part, it did get a little snarky toward comment 700) pointed out that A. we weren’t criminals and here’s legal reasons why, and b. Scum is a very rude and subjective thing to say about people you didn’t know and had wrongly characterized as criminals.

Round about comment 750, I was going back and forth with one follower of said person who essentially said, "I don’t care if you guys are doing something legal, I would lose respect for (said person) if they apologized. They should stick to their principles."

To which I responded, "No one expects said person to back down from their principles, they can continue to not do and not like this activity. We just want an apology for calling us all criminals, which we’ve proven we’re not, and scum."

"I think apologizing for that would be backing down from her principles."

The hell?

Ok, I have news for you. Insults are not principles. Saying untrue things about people you don’t like, are not principles. Let me give you an example.

Not being for gay marriage, regardless of how wrong-headed I and millions of other people may think it is, is a principle.
Calling people "faggots" is not a principle.

Got it?

From Merriam Webster online (http://www.merriam-webster.com/):
Principle – Noun 1 a : a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption b (1) : a rule or code of conduct (2) : habitual devotion to right principles (a principle of man) c : the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device

There are several other definitions, which you may go look up if you are so moved, but this is the one I’m talking about.

See, there’s nothing in there about being an insulting dick.

Look, you may not like something that someone does, and you may indeed feel strongly enough about it that it could be categorized as a personal principle. But that doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk about it.

You will note that this does not mean that you can’t call someone out for something you view as wrong, or that IS indeed illegal. Calling someone who actually rapes children a "Pedophile" is not an insult, it’s the truth. Calling someone who actually does steal and hurt people a criminal, abuser or even scum, is likewise not groundlessly insulting people.

Saying all people who work in the service industry are only there because they’re morons who can’t do any better, is not principled. It’s a dick move. Yeah, I heard this a lot when I was bartending and bouncing to put myself through grad school.

And you can call people out without being an ass about it. Let’s take polyamory/open relationships for example. You’re monogamous, and you see a friend, relative or co-worker who you know is married, "stepping out" on his wife/her husband.
"I don’t like what you’re doing, I think it’s wrong," you might say.
"Well, I can see how you’d think that, but we have a polyamorous/open relationship, and everyone involved is on the same page, you can even talk to my wife/husband about it if you want. Thanks for your concern," the other person says.*

You should not then proceed to call them a sinning adulterer damned to everlasting hellfire, you should consider that you have made a stand for your principles, and discovered that this other person does not share them. The End.

Insults are not principles and vice versa.

Apologizing for wrongly accusing someone of being something they (demonstrably) aren’t is not a violation of principles. It is an act of decency. Apologizing for insulting someone in the heat of the moment, is not backing down from your principles. It is an act of civility. You may still think they’re an asshole/adulterer/dickhead whatever, but the bounds of civility require a certain amount of social lubrication, supplied by apologies and other rules of politesse.

*As most people are monogamous, it isn’t unreasonable to assume that sooner or later everyone in a poly/open relationship is going to have to deal with this. I have. Sigh. And I would remind the polyamorous/open relationship folk in the universe that it behooves you to be polite when responding to these folks regardless of HOW not their business it is.

This entry originally posted at http://polimicks.dreamwidth.org/

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This entry was posted on May 8, 2010 by in Uncategorized and tagged , .

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