What in the world are you supposed to do when someone accuses you of close-mindedness (or worse) simply because you disagree with what they have to say? What are you supposed to do when someone who refuses to listen to your side of the issue wrongly accuses you of not listening to their side?
I've been pondering this question of late. It's certainly happened to me before. Recently in my Family Law class when I defended the idea of civil unions for same-sex couples I was called a bigot because I didn't go far enough, in demanding that there be same-sex marriages allowed as well. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that the only reason to be opposed to same-sex marriage was not a moral objection (founded on well-established religious and ethical grounds (i.e. natural law)), but rather because I was motivated by animus and hatred of homosexuals. I think my life speaks for itself in this regard, and that's plainly false. But it was immensely frustrating to have people in the course who supported same-sex marriage tell me that there wasn't even the possibility of a counter-argument which they would consider listening to. And yet, for their close-mindedness, I was labeled the bigot (and for supporting civil unions!).
Ben put up a terrific quote about basically the same idea.
"If there's one thing that annoys me more than a close-minded, self-righteous conservative, it's a close-minded, self-righteous liberal."
And my sister Emily is obviously dealing with the same problem. She writes, "everybody in the class makes me feel like if I say anything different from what they say I'm a horrible, close-minded, prejudiced and discriminatory person. I hate [my school] sometimes, because they're all so freaking 'open-minded' that you can't be 'conservative' about anything anymore because you're automatically close-minded. Freaking people."
So since it's been on my mind, I'm trying to figure out how to deal with the problem. In response to Emily's post I suggested that she try throwing dead seafood at the offenders. After all, there would be something very cathartic about flinging fish at a deserving target.
But as wonderful as it might be to make like Lew Zealand, there's gotta be a more reasonable way to respond when these things happen. Any ideas?
Also, huge bonus points for anyone that gets the Lew Zealand reference. Without looking it up.
Also, I've decided that for the rest of April, all my song quotes will be from They Might Be Giants Songs. There's just too many good lines that I've been neglecting.
Speak softly drive a Sherman tank