Let's Clarify: "You Need to Respect My Opinion!"

There's a big difference between respecting others' opinions, and respecting the right of other people to hold opinions. I've seen these concepts mixed a lot recently in political posts.

To be clear:

No one has a right to others respecting their opinions.

Others may (rightly, or wrongly) believe that your opinion is misinformed, or based on shaky or nonexistent logic, or tragically hurtful to others -- but, they shouldn't force you to change your mind. That last bit would disrespect your right to hold any opinion you want. The first bit does not, since they, in turn, have a right to hold their opinion on anything, including your opinion.

Their lack of respect for your opinion is another opinion. It is called a "disagreement," and is a normal part of the democratic process.

Expressing one, whether in-between election cycles, or immediately after election night, is not a violation of your right to hold an opinion -- it is in no way an attack, nor is it a form of oppression -- unless the person who disagrees with you takes the necessary extra step to silence you, or force you to recant.

I can listen deeply to an opinion, and understand where it's coming from. I may first have to collect myself and secure my psychological defenses to the point that listening to your opinions doesn't do me major psychological harm by implying that you consider me subhuman at some level, whether you intended that damage or not. That is, of course, if I have the privilege of being able to do that.

Then, and only then, can I feel comfortable with the idea that it is in my (or anyone's) self-interest to listen.

Further, I can choose to use the knowledge gained from listening to have a conversation that might result in building bridges. I can also choose to use it to figure out how to reduce the harm done to underserved, disenfranchised and/or at-risk populations by the opinions that you and people like you hold, once they are filtered through our structurally racist, mysoginist and homophobic political system and are turned into harmful action, like the denial of basic services or getting shot by a perpetrator who is never punished or even found guilty of a crime in the court of law, or (it seems) in public opinion.

And after all that, my newly-informed, considered opinion may still be that you are a racist bigot (or that you choose to empower one -- the distinction is immaterial, since the impact is the same).

If you think your job security is more important than the physical security of blacks, Muslims, the LGBT population and women -- regardless of if you, yourself, happen to be a part of one or several of these, and unless you specifically take a stand against all the hate-mongering and hate-positive things happening in direct connection to the election (see this piece) -- then you are racist, among other bad things. That is, you are supporting a system of oppression, regardless of your words, or whether or not you are polite about it.

And you, and the liberals more concerned with stability and following an established narrative of "coming together" (e.g. silencing our dissent), whose privilege (or willful blindness to their lack thereof) protects them from the consequences of not expressing dissent and acting as an opposition in line with democratic ideals, will just have to deal with that.

Because I have to deal with both of these groups whether I like it or not.

And I don't.

At all.

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