pinkbatmax on March 18, 2013
You know how sometimes I get far too preachy in a strip? Yep. This is one. And I'm about to do the same here, so strap yourself in. Or just don't read it. Either way's just fine. Are you ready? Then I'll begin.
From time to time, a fan will reveal themselves to hold strong opinions on some political or social question and will expect that I hold the same. Whether it’s assuming that I hate religion (I do not), that I look at questions of inequality as they do (unlikely), or any other matter they hold dear, they anticipate that I will share their opinion. If I don’t, they believe, I will quickly see the error of my ways with a little ‘education’ from them. It is a form of intellectual conformity, and that I may not in the end conclude as they do appears to be something they have not considered and can not accept. Almost every time, it is a position endorsed by contemporary academics and disseminated via a cascading series of essays and opinion pieces by a variety of authors standing on their soap boxes in the blogosphere.
One of the things I find exhausting about the theories from academia that are the coin of LGBT and otherwise ‘progressive’ circles, and a tripping point I’ve stumbled on many times is this: most people cannot distinguish truth from sophistry. I don't necessarily mean 'sophistry' as a negative.... many professions depend on it. A lawyer's job, for instance, is not to expose the truth, but to make the most convincing case s/he in the interests of her or his client…. In other words, to convince with sophistry. It is also the coin of the realm in academia. The formulators of academic theory may see themselves as agents of truth, but that's simply not accurate. They are attempting to persuade people to view their (admittedly educated) opinions as the eternal truth. But if you look at the long view, you see that thought and theory tends to be cyclical, and once you realize that you see that continual forward progress should mean that theory is ever progressive, which means it shouldn't have to repeat itself. It should be discarded because it is conclusively disproven. If this happened, then there should be no reason it should ever come back into vogue, but that's not the academic landscape you see. The thing is, distinguishing truth from sophistry requires felicity in navigating the choppy waters of abstract thought, and not everyone is capable of that or willing to do it. In it's absence, a kind of fundamentalism grows. An absolute confidence in the truth of a creed minus the ability, or perhaps simply minus the inclination, to examine it. Flowing from that, further questioning and examine the creed, and looking at it critically becomes heretical. Pretty soon, thought and ideology becomes willingly policed by its adherents, and those who transgress the accepted ideological parameters are dealt with. People who come to their own, contrary conclusions become seen as those who are ignorant to or defiant of the One True Creed, and we should all know THAT takes us nowhere pretty. I was deeply frustrated the other day in a discussion with someone. She dismissed and ignored my arguments because they weren't the ones officially sanctioned by her One True Creed. She didn't even try to address my thought, simply ignored them completely, and sent me links to educate myself on the Right Way To Think.
I have no place for a left or a culture that mistakes sophistry for truth to a degree that opinions that vary need not even be acknowledged. Truth (such as it can be said to exist at all) isn't dependent on group consensus, and essays and books that attempt to persuade (sophistry) are not holy text that is taboo to question. I lost my temper, finding myself preached to in order to convert rather than in an exchange of ideas. EXCHANGE ideas, consider them, draw your conclusions, and accept nothing as the eternal, immutable truth because in reality, they are simply the opinions of other folks of this big blue marble who are lost and trying to make sense of it all. By all means, read their words and consider their position, but always keep in mind that all they are is opinions, whether well or ill considered, and when anyone tries to convince you there is an established, absolute truth, they probably want something from you, Question everything, accept diverse opinions, and use your own mind to suss things out on your own. You may not come to conclusions with the confidence other people have, but that a person, even a learned one, has confidence in a creed isn't an indication that it deserves to be accepted as truth. Their confidence reveals more about them then the ideas they.
Examine everything, especially those things you're told are taboo to question, use your mind, and forge your own path. And if you can't, I beg you: please don't try to drag me into the confines of your own unquestioning fidelity to any given creed. It won't end well.