Free speech

I like to wander over to Jezebel occasionally. I really like their features where they tear apart the week’s goss magazines, and sometimes their Snap Judgements are really spot on and hilarious.

I was pretty gutted when they decided to ban commenting. And then I didn’t visit the site for a few weeks. When I finally remembered to, whaddya know? Comments were BACK! I guess it’s one of those sites (like I said in a tweet) that just isn’t as good without feedback. It’s one of those sites that thrives on comments. The stories are only half the story. The comments are what bring it to life. They have some DEDICATED commenters, and some lively debate.

But I find a lot of their commenters…well, exhausting. And repetitive. And boringly predictable. A lot of them are super feminist, a lot of them are tough and defensive and come from abusive backgrounds. And sometimes the vibe gets a little overtly PC and I just can’t take it. And yes, I find them somewhat annoying. Once, I can’t remember what the original article was about, but the comment thread was by some Christian proclaiming that she didn’t hate gays – no, she LOVED them – but thought their lifestyle was wrong. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Male and female fit together, nothing else works.

So of course, everyone jumped on her. She tried to defend herself, and I think, did so very politely and elegantly. She never once lost her cool and remained gracious throughout. She was asked lots of questions, which she answered, and responded to most points raised.

Now, I totally don’t agree with her. But I admired how she conducted herself, given the hostile environment. If she’s been reading Jezebel, surely she knows what the community is like. And she must have been brave indeed to put her lone opinion out there – a rare conservative voice among countless liberals, stereotypical feminists, and LGBTs. (And if that was  the first article she ever read and commented on, well that was just stupidity, I guess).

But I really didn’t see why everyone insisted on carrying on so much. She obviously wasn’t going to change her mind. Or concede any points. Some of her argument didn’t make sense. They still weren’t going to back her down. She was a HARDCORE Christian, and nothing anyone could say would change that. So why did they keep trying, and abusing her? Why continue on a lost cause? I think most of them were just ranting for the sake of it – she was an easy target, and she didn’t lose her cool back at them.

And really, can someone’s opinion be WRONG? I mean, I think her opinion was wrong. I don’t agree with it. But by definition, an opinion is what someone thinks. It can’t be WRONG. It can be hurtful, and homophobic and illogical, but it can’t actually be wrong.

That’s something I struggle with. A lot of my friends have diametrically opposed political/social views to mine. It makes for some sparkling discussions sometimes. And as long as it doesn’t cross the line into hate speech – as long as it remains civil – even though I may throw my hands up and bemoan their ignorance, we live in a country which celebrates free speech and where everyone is entitled to their own views.

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