Opinions Are Not Worth More Than People

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Opinions Are Not Worth More Than People

Vincent Gray, Staff Writer

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I want to start this off with a personal story of mine. My mother, who is no longer in my life, and I would often debate on this topic. What kind of opinions are okay to have? My mother was very homophobic, among other things, and I am a raging Queer. Over the years my relationship with my biological mother started to decay, this was greatly due to her lack of acceptance around who I was as a person, as well as other unhealthy communications. My mother said I was not accepting of who she was, and by that she meant I didn’t accept her homophobia and transphobia. Could “who she is” be “not accepting part of who I am?” She seemed to believe that her opinions about who I was (that could be changed with education and willingness to change) were somehow comparable to an identity I had no say in (and have no choice to change). I’m sure one can imagine why I would be opposed to spending time with someone who believes I’m a sick,confused, freak of nature.

That brings me to my main point, what kind of opinions are okay to have? And yes, I know, I have no absolute power to control the opinions of others. However, I can help lay down the framework of ethics in our society through my influence, and perhaps impact people in a positive way. That being said, I strongly believe that opinions in many matters (music, food, fashion, etc) are unimportant to morality (for the most part). However “opinions” that are in relation to other human beings freedoms and rights, ones that affect people’s value of life, are not to be taken lightly.  When it comes to “opinions” about race, ability, sexuality, gender, etc. simply saying, “It’s my opinion! Freedom of speech!” is not a valid argument. When one develops opinions about others and their experiences, they must prepare themselves to be chastised, and be open to the potential of themselves being wrong.

Further, I notice a lot of ,“This is who I am, stop trying to change me!” type stuff, as my own mother did when I tried to confront her intolerance. Opinions about someone else’s experience are never comparable to the experience itself. The opinion of the racist is not, in fact, more valuable than the identity of the person of color. The opinion of the homophobe is not more valuable than the experience of the homosexual, and so on. That being said, opinions are not more valuable than people, and when one’s opinion damages and brings down the value of the life of an innocent person, they should be faced as they are, intolerant.

When it comes to forming opinions about other people, especially with experiences that can be super sensitive or hard to talk about because of social stigma, it is best to keep an open mind. Understanding that one cannot know everything about another person’s experience is extremely important. People come from all kinds of backgrounds, and our perceptions can be widely different. I think its important people know that invalidating someone’s experiences based on our own preconceptions  of their experience is extremely hurtful, and very shallow.

I know often times with how easy things are to access on the internet, widespread media can quickly demonetize a group of people, especially when social stigma and biases already exist. I hope you will hold my words in you heart and mind as you go about your life, and bring some understanding into our tense and bitter world.

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