Many years ago during W’s first term as president, my brother and I got into an argument. It was about the next election and who we were voting for. My brother wasn’t thrilled with W, but leaned towards voting for him because W was purportedly a Christian and moral values and blah, blah, blah.
Side Note: My brother is one of the few people with whom I feel safe raising my voice. I’m not saying this is a good thing, necessarily, but it is, as they say, what it is. My brother at that time was more conventional and traditional than he is now. He was very much into morality, specifically of the Christian bent. Marriage before God, monogamy, one-man and one-woman, abortion is murder, etc. So even though he, personally, was a man of science, he was easily swayed by the religiosity of Republicans.
I pointed out to him that abortions went down under Democrats because people who feel personally safe are more apt to have children. There are other reasons, yes, but that’s what it boils down to. We kept arguing, and we were getting more heated. We were having fast food Chinese in the restaurant and our voices were rising. We argued for a good half hour, neither of us giving an inch. My brother was getting flustered, and he said quite loudly, “I have the right to my opinion!” To which I said, “Yes, you do. And I have the right to disagree.”
The second part is what I’ve think we’ve lost. We meaning the Democrats. At some point, we’re conceded the moral high ground to the Republicans. Which is a laugh because they are so fucking amoral, it hurts. They’re the ones who want to take away rights from people, but I digress.
No, actually, that’s not a digression; it’s the main point. For too long, the Republicans have been able to put the Dems on the defense with the aid of projection. Anything they accuse the Dems of doing is what they, themselves, do. I remember the fight for/against marriage equality and how we were being ‘nucivil’ if we were anything less than excruciatingly polite to them. “Please, Sir, may I please have my civil rights and be an equal person in the eyes of the government?” We were supposed to bow and scrape, tugging at our forelocks. We were NOT supposed to say that they were homophobic or fucking assholes We were supposed to pretend that it was just an intellectual debate and not our personhood on the line. It’s galling to have to supplicate others for our civil rights, and it’s supposed to be. It’s meant to show us how little we mean and how thin the ice we are on is.
Side Note to the Side Note: This is why civil rights should not be up for vote. Having to count on your fellow human beings to verify your humanity is not a good feeling.
Side Note to the Side Note to the Side Note: I was one of the people who argued that we queers should fight for equality in jobs first rather than marriage, but I obviously lost that fight. K argued the opposite because she said being married was so emotionally important. I argued that you could do all that through lawyers. Now, I conceded that maybe she had been right, but she says maybe I was right. Either way, fuck the SCOTUS for threatening to overturn marriage equality.
Anyway. Yes, people have the right to their opinion, but that doesn’t mean their opinion is right or doesn’t suck. It’s like the people who whine about their freedom of speech rights. Yes, you can say what you want (within reason), but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be called an asshole for it. Other people also have the right to speak! And the right to the opinion! That’s part of the whole deal.
My brother and I worked through it. Four years later, he voted for Obama, renounced the Republicans, and swung 180 the other way. It’s not surprising because he’s more of a lefty in some ways than I am, but it was the Christian hook that kept him on the Republican side for so long. Which is a neat trick on their part because their actions are oftentimes the antithesis of what they proclaim they believe in.
Side Note: My brother does thing wholeheartedly. About a month after he left the Republican Party, he called me up in high dudgeon. “Minna,” he said. “I have something to tell you.” I could tell by the tone of his voice that it was something big and important. “What’s that?” I asked, my voice serious. He told me that he went to the Republican website (which one? I’m not sure. Probably the official GOP website) to see what they had written there. I made noncommittal noises and waited for the big thing he wanted to reveal to me.
“Minna.” Big dramatic pause. “They lie on their website!”
“Yes, and?” I wasn’t trying to be a jerk, but I was waiting for the shocking thing he wanted to tell me.
“No, Minna, you don’t understand. They actually lie on their website!” Indignation in his voice, and I had to stifle a chuckle. My brother didn’t follow politics the way I did back then. That meant that this was news to him, whereas I had known it for decades. I told him that, yes, they did, and he couldn’t quite wrap his mind around it.
I’m actually pretty proud that he changed his mind in part because of our discussions/disagreements/fights. One thing I’ll say about my brother is that he will listen to other people’s arguments and if they make sense, he will incorporate them into his beliefs.
The thing is, though, yeah, he has the right to whatever opinion he has. But I have the right to tell him he’s full of shit. Which I did, albeit not as bluntly as that.
And, honestly, it’s pretty much just a matter of semantics for me to say that I respect their right to have an opinion even if I don’t respect the opinion because I’m still judging the fuck out of them for having bad opinions. Someone wants to take away my civil rights? Then they are bad and should feel bad. I think that we’ve really gone too far in thinking that no one should ever feel bad for any reason. If you think women are chattel who should be forced to breed even if they don’t want to, you’re an asshole. I will stand by that and give no quarter.
So, maybe I don’t respect someone’s right to have an opinion if I don’t respect that opinion; I am perfectly fine with that.