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I’m Not Responsible for Your Ignorance

July 10, 2009

It makes me angry when I tell someone I am a socialist, or a feminist, or whatever, and they think this must mean I think Stalin was great or that I hate men.

When I explain to them that I don’t think Stalin was great and that I don’t hate men, and then go on to explain what positions I do support, they often think that my views are not unreasonable.

But then they tend to say something like the following: “Why do you have to use such crazy or radical terms to describe yourself? No one is going to take you seriously if you keep saying you’re a socialist.”

This makes me angrier.

The fact that your knowledge of “socialism” or “feminism” is limited to the misinformation and claptrap you heard on Fox news (which employs anchors who advocate racial purity!), that’s your fault, not mine. I refuse to take personal responsibility for your ignorance—you should be mad at yourself, not at me.

Conversely, if I assume you want to kill abortion doctors because you identify as an evangelical Christian, that reflects poorly on me, not on you. It reflects my ignorant deployment of extremely superficial stereotypes, not your inability to choose more better names for the groups you associate with.

So, the next time I have a conversation with you and you start to say, “You shouldn’t use polarizing terms to describe yourself,” don’t be surprised if I mumble under my breath something about not throwing pearls before swine.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. larry c wilson permalink
    July 11, 2009 4:48 pm

    “more better”?!

  2. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    July 11, 2009 5:43 pm

    Oops. Thanks for the free copyediting!

  3. Reader permalink
    July 13, 2009 8:10 pm

    I share your frustration. It’s awfully difficult to have a discussion with anyone today. Even supposedly well educated people rely on stereotypes and shorthand and refuse to take the time to educate themselves. Uneducated, ignorant people aren’t even embarrassed about their ignorance.

  4. Jordan wilson permalink
    July 14, 2009 6:40 pm

    Waa Waa Waa. Nobody loves me because I’m a poor socialist. Can your critical thinking come up with another reason?

  5. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    July 14, 2009 7:29 pm

    Hi Jordan! Why don’t you tell me what your position is so I can attack a “straw man” version of it?

  6. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    July 14, 2009 7:30 pm

    By the way, I enjoy engaging with critics of socialism who actually know something about it—it’s the ones who don’t who get on my nerves.

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