I am often accused of being a “contrarian”. I am also often accused of not wanting to be challenged. As if to stridently put across an alternative view is somehow associated with ignorance.
This is the censorship of conformity, in my view.
It is true that certain dogmatic views test my patience, and I will display an unwillingness to engage, if I feel that view is held in an intransigent way.
This is not the same as not wanting to be challenged. It is just being honest about the prospects of a fruitful discussion.
All of us are entitled to our opinions. But not all opinions are equal.
Anyone that knows me, knows I go out of my way to listen to the views of others, and I am a reliable listener.
However, I reserve the right to not engage with every respondent equally.
I will only engage in comments that make an investment in what I have said, rather than cast a sweeping judgement on what I have said.
If people simply comment to make a sneering, superior remark, or to make a subtle ad hominem attack while pretending to engage with what I am saying, then no, I will not respond, nor engage.
I reserve that right.
Just because there is a comment box, doesn’t mean that it must be filled.
I take for granted that my opinions are just that: opinions.
I take strident views on controversial subjects, precisely knowing that many of them are unpopular, and very possibly wrong.
It is this that justifies a trenchant approach.
When you are attempting to break the consensus, you are not only engaging with views and ideas, you are fighting against people’s emotional attachment to their reality.
This makes it incumbent on the free-thinker to not just propose an alternative view, but to subject the consensus itself to a kind of assault.
This does not amount to personal abuse of anyone. It simply amounts to an abuse of the received wisdom, and the clenched energy that keeps the consensus in place.
If all you have to offer is a regurgitation of the consensus I am attacking, then I can only assume that you have not engaged with my views.
So why should I feel compelled to respond?
If on the other hand, you are willing to accept that the received view is not necessarily the right one, and you don’t fall lazily back on consensus, then you will find me ready and willing to engage.
Very often people pretend to be offering a legitimate “challenge”, when in fact they are attempting to silence you and humiliate you.
This is what I mean by the “disguised ad hominem”.
It is a common tactic among academics and some portions of the socialist left.
It’s a form of defence through attack, and I frankly have no time for it.
If someone has honestly tried to engage with your views, there are give-away signs.
The biggest of those signs is a fundamental willingness to step outside the safety of commonly held views. Only when someone has shown me that, will I choose to engage in a discussion with them.
All of us believe we have reason our side. But none of us do.
All of us, and especially myself, are arguing from a set of values, a set of principles which we hold to be true and which mean a great deal to us.
If someone admits this, and doesn’t cower behind the false objectivity of consensus, then I welcome their comments.
Everyone else can go and enjoy the comforts of having their views projected back to them in an echo-chamber. Good luck.