I have spent a lot of time travelling long distances with a colleague who has lots of opinions he likes to share with me. Quite often he has asked me my thoughts are on his pearls of wisdom, and occasionally I will offer one; and sometimes I tell him that I don’t have enough knowledge on the subject to offer one. He’s never offended, in fact he probably likes the feeling of knowing more about something that I don’t, and I’m okay with that.
One topic that continually gets dialled up on his personal play list is freedom of speech. Of course, being a blogger I am all for having the freedom to write and publish material I want. I know there are counties that will imprison you for some of the smut I have doled out! Now my idea of free speech is that I will say what I like as long as I feel it will not cause offence to an individual. Those are my rules based on the principle that I would not want to intentionally upset someone. Great idea in principle I’m sure you agree, however, you cannot please all of the people all of the time; and yet I believe you have a responsibility to be careful with statements as you do with a loaded gun; that’s if you happen to live in a country that has outdated gun laws….. See what I did there?
And so I thought I would test my friend on his thoughts on BDSM. Now to start with, BDSM is not on my CV, he would know that, so to suddenly become an in-car guru on the topic would do two things. Firstly he could be looking for the next set of road side services to dump me off, or secondly, become very interested in the topic and my unexpected knowledge of kink things. Either way, my desire to talk about kinky things in a confined space at 70 mph carries a risk. As luck would have it my friend raised the subject of sex and marriage, and for me that opened a door which I happily wiped my feet on the welcome mat.
“Ever tried a bit of BDSM in your time?” I asked casually.
“No, not really my thing to be honest – all a bit fucking weird,” he replied.
I had to agree internally, it can be a bit weird sometimes!
“Why weird?” I probed.
“Well, why would you want some Amazonian dominatrix beating the shit out of you whilst dressed as a baby?”
“Is that what you honestly think BDSM is about?” I asked, probably too quickly….
“My point is, and maybe my example is short-sighted, is that I find that kind of activity weird,” he said.
“The people are weird or the activities are weird?” I challenged.
“It’s people who make activities weird, activities are just activities until stirred up!” He laughed.
Our conversation was interrupted by a reckless road user and was never restarted. Now I could have been offended by being referred to as weird, but I wasn’t. I initiated the conversation and therefore accepted in advance whatever the outcome. However, I wish the same could be said about some other people I have interacted with.
Having an opinion carries responsibility. You can’t throw a statement out there without first acknowledging a response is coming your way. What gets me, and I see it on social media a lot, is when one person views their personal opinion as fact. I think everyone is entitled to their opinion based on free speech, however, not all opinions are equally valuable. My view is that opinions based on fact with measurable and meaningful data are more valid than those that are not. You could argue that any opinion is useful, however, we have all heard bull shit and decided that is not useful, to you. To another studying Bull-Shit it could be very valuable, for the point of balance.
My friend said people involved in BDSM are weird, and as I said, I take no offence to that because to him such activities make him feel uncomfortable, and I’m sure if he knew BDSM was my thing he would have used different language. I have many opinions on many things and most stay in my head because either I cannot be bothered getting into a debate with short-sighted people or I genuinely feel the other person has something valuable to say so being silent aids my abilty to hear what is being said. If you ask, I will give you an honest and polite response. I have no expectations that you should think like me, or for that matter would I want you to think like me. You have asked me and I may give my opinion; my choice or give or not to give.
I am proud to be part of a community where people write, display sexy images, have open conversations about sexual preferences and feel relatively safe. Above all, I am part of a group that is tollerant, open minded and polite enough not to go out of their way to piss people off.
So, why have I written this post you may wonder? Well I suppose I am irritated by the increasing amount of people who are antisocial in terms of being so fixed on their opinions that anyone not aligning themselves to their way of thinking is wrong and should be hung out to dry. I see it everywhere, it’s increasing and I think it is bad for society. Make a statement on Twitter or any social media site that does not align to an other person’s way of thinking and wait for the venom to start being spat at you personally. It becomes about the person who said it and not the argument. It is appalling; it’s like a school yard fight, everyone wanting to in on the action by jeering and then running away to leave the damage behind.
Plato is quoted in saying ‘Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.’ I think he is right, especially when you consider he lived 2400 years ago when open debate was done face to face and not hiding behind an @ sign. When someone challenges proven fact with an opinion that does not make them right, it is a judgement where someone is attempting to draw a reasonable conclusion. Fact on the other hand is worthless unless used in context, and therefore holds no more credibility if thrown around like confetti. So next time someone offers an opinion or states fact, challenge the information by all means, but don’t make it personal, they just might be a sensitive kinky weirdo like you. (In my opinion)