I was sitting in the movie theater this afternoon waiting for "Epic Movie" to begin (not quite as epic as expected, but there are worse ways to spend 90 minutes and $5.75) when I heard "Not Ready to Make Nice" by the Dixie Chicks, who are up for a Grammy or two. This got me thinking about the nature of opinion in today's society. As I'm sure you're aware, I'm not usually at a loss for opinions, including opinions.
There are two groups of people who I must take issue with because they're damaging the state of public discourse. First, there are the wishy washy people who have opinions, but don't stick to them out of fear of offending someone. That's the nature of opinion, though. Whenever you take a stand on any issue, you run the risk of someone thinking that you're the biggest idiot in the world for believing as you do. That took me the longest time to get used to when I first started writing because I tried too hard not to offend. Regardless of what you might think, I try not to offend people if I can help it, and in most cases I can. The wishy-washy types haven't figured out that someone out there will take an opposite opinion to theirs, which doesn't make the wishy-washy types wrong.
Look, it's okay to have contrary opinions on big issues like philosophy, religion, and politics. But there are times when you have to draw a line and not retreat past that line. Take child molestation for example. Most people have the line drawn at "no kids should be molested," but the pedophiles are trying to convince people that they just have a different sexual orientation than the "normal" society. If the wishy-washy folks ultimately win, the pedophiles will get permission to molest children because the wishy-washy folks will have given the pedophiles permission with their lack of will to condemn what they know is wrong. There's an old saying that applies here: All evil needs to do to be victorious is for good men to do nothing. Ah, but they are doing something: they're compromising their principles for the sake of "getting along."
The other group of opinionated people that torque me off is people who think opinion is only one-way. The Dixie Chicks fall in this category because of they reacted to the negative press following Natalie Maines's anti-Bush statement in front of a British audience. They spoke their minds and then got shocked when others spoke theirs in opposition. Sorry, Chicks, but the expression of any opinion is two-way, and, yes, sometimes those opinions will be different than yours. If you want respect for your opinions, you can't overlook that the person to whom you're pontificating may have a different, legitimate take on your opinions. You can say whatever you want pretty much, but you are not guaranteed an audience. Err America found out early on and know it all too well today.
So, here's what I think we should do. Don't be afraid that someone is going to take issue with whatever you write or say. If they do, thank them and try to make your point again. If that fails, it's pretty much a lost cause. And for the "one-way" opinion folks, let me point out that unless you're God, your opinions are subject to revision, but you won't find that out if you keep believing that yours is the only sensible voice out there. Trust me, you aren't.
Once we get people to stop being wishy-washy on issues they should be able to knock out the part without breaking a sweat or dominant when there's no real need to do so, then we will be better able to handle anything that comes up on the opinion front.