Tuesday, December 19, 2006

That which is, and that which is not

Or, the extremely basic and probably incorrect things I remember from A level Philosophy, viz. that something which is, cannot be the same as something which is not. Knowledge is based upon something which is--you can't know for sure that something doesn't exist, for example. But what about opinion? Opinion and knowledge can't be the same thing; therefore, opinion cannot be based upon that which is. Opinion must, therefore, be based on ignorance.

That's what Plato said (at least, I think that's what he said). So, what about those people--and anyone who's ever read a blog or message forum knows who I'm talking about--who make an inflammatory comment and then back it up with, "I'm just stating my opinion." Sometimes they even use the word humble--which I think might apply to the opinion, but not the person stating it. When pressed, they usually mention free speech, and talk about 'speaking one's mind' as if it's the right and noble thing to do.

It's not. Of course, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and of course we should all express ourselves. But the intelligent and sane among us generally realise that expressing every thought is not always a wise idea. Everyone (except perhaps Ned Flanders) has secret thoughts about other people or places or things that they generally keep to themselves. You know, like when you don't tell your grandmother what a boring old biddy she is; or your best friend how you find her boyfriend incredibly ugly; or your neighbour that the hedge topiary they're so proud of looks like a penis.

But somehow on the internet, we forget ourselves. Somehow, the little switch inside the brain which usually says "SHUT UP" when a nasty thought occurs, fails to function when the fingers are doing the talking. And we broadcast our opinions all over the place. And then, when they offend someone, we defend ourselves with the apparently invincible, "I was only speaking my mind."

Well, look. Having recently been quite offended by someone whose posts I'd assumed to be purposefully inflammatory, I received the 'speaking my mind' reply. If I'd spoken mine in return, my post would be unprintable. If a post attacking my genre explicitly, and myself implicitly, is not intended to anger and provoke, then I can only assume the poster is just simple. Or doesn't care about offending others. It's what we called at school 'shit-stirring'.

It might be your opinion that erotica is disgusting and dirty. Fine. You can think what you want. But if you're going to start telling people about it, especially people who write erotica, don't pretend you're not trying to make trouble. Don't pretend you're not trying to offend someone. You are, and you know it. Free speech is a wonderful thing. It really is. But using it as a sheild against people whom you intend to offend is a perverted thing to do.

Speaking your mind is not a good thing. If you don't believe me, try this as an exercise. Walk into a school parents evening and declare loudly that all divorced parents are doing the very worst thing for their children. Then say, "I'm only speaking my mind," and tell me how many bruises that saves you.

Bet it's not many.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:20 pm

    They've been crawling out of the wood work lately, haven't they? It's been ridiculous. I have two extremes of people....oh you write romance, you must love sex...and the conversation goes down hill from there....or oh, you write romance? With a look down the nose as if I'd crawled out from under the nearest rock and am the most horrible person on earth.

    Of course, there are a plethora of wonderful people out there who love our genre with ALL its sub-genres. (And, for all those who have something negative to say about it...have you read the genre? Or hell, perhaps you have and you're afraid to admit you LIKE it.) *grins*

    Can we tell I've had my rants about this lately too???