I get it. Lots of people have fetishes. Some people fetishize butts, some people like to be tied up, some people like a foot in their face, and even some people like to pretend they’re being consumed in some kind of cannibalistic thing or whatever.
Everyone, apparently, has some kind of fetish.
But you, you have an opinion fetish.
See, the difference between someone who has a fetish for opinions, or even the idea of an opinion, and people with other, more regular fetishes, is most people keep that stuff in the bedroom, you know? When you take your fetish out into the public, you make every bystander and witness a part of that without their personal consent. And that sucks!
Why should other people, minding their own business, be subjected to your fetishism of opinions? Just because you will defend anything anyone says, no matter how volatile and violent, doesn’t mean other people want to be a part of that.
But, since some of you are probably incapable of keeping your fetish at home, I’m here to perhaps guide you in discerning what is and isn’t a valid opinion. Now, before we get into that: I’ve seen some people, especially people who run federated/decentralized instances of Mastodon and GNU Social, saying that acceptable speech is a “moving goal post.”
Which is entirely wrong. Just because you’ve never thought about something, or have never been exposed to contrary ideas about something that marginalized people consider bigoted, doesn’t mean something that was previously not bad, is suddenly bad.
Hint: It’s always been that way. And with the internet continuing to expand, marginalized people have a much larger voice than they used to, so you can expect us to speak out more about bad things that affect us. And just because something doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean that it’s just completely invalid.
Another hint: It’s called empathy.
But anyway, you want help in determining how to moderate your opinion fetish so that you can at least appear to be more sympathetic of other human beings and their unique lives that likely differ from your own. In order to do that I present to you the “president rule.”
Now, I don’t think this can apply to everything, since some people would likely apply it in a disingenuous manner, but it is a good starting point.
First, what’s the “president rule?”
Basically, anything that would get you investigated by the FBI and the Secret Service likely isn’t a valid opinion.
So let’s start with some examples:
“I like peanut butter on my sandwich without the jelly. Jelly is gross.”
A valid opinion. The FBI will likely leave you alone.
“Pineapple pizza is an abomination.”
A valid opinion, although wrong, still valid.
“I like to put mayo in my coffee.”
Really freaking gross, but still a valid preference or opinion.
“Transgender people are gross and I would never ever date one.”
Now here’s where things get tricky. Yeah, this is an opinion at first glance, albeit extremely bigoted, but here’s why it’s not-so-valid. Transgender people already face a ton of violence that has been embedded in our system for decades. Pushing ideas such as the one above reinforces a lot of those ideas and in some cases even justifies violence against us.
So if the president was a transgender woman, you likely would not say this to her. Sure, she probably couldn’t have the Secret Service investigate you for it, but it would still be extremely disrespectful and mean.
We’re going to call this a partial opinion, but mostly just bigoted and close-minded.
“I think all people who don’t look like me should be rounded up, gassed and dumped in mass graves.”
Absolutely not a valid opinion. On top of inciting violence, which is a direct violation of the first amendment, you totally would be investigated by the FBI and the Secret Service if you switched out “people” for “president.”
Bigotry is one thing. I could argue for days about how bigotry isn’t protected by the first amendment and how bigotry is, in itself, an incitement of violence against marginalized people. Because it is, and any nasty, stereotypical opinion you have about transgender people, women, or black people, is just downright not worth listening to.
But suggesting that people should just directly be murdered in droves, in some historical repeat of the second World War should be the most obvious non-opinion of them all. And by hollering for protection of speech for the people who would say things like this, you are immediately centering yourself as being supportive of these types of ideas, which again, are not valid opinions.
Also, especially, because these types of people are actually already carrying out violence, and opposing that is something that any decent human being with morals would and should do.
They’re ideas. Extremely bad ideas. But it doesn’t take a genius to know that you can’t just call genocide an opinion and wash away all implications of violence.
Because, again, any speech that incites violence, especially against marginalized people, is a direct violation of the first amendment. And if you can’t stop defending this kind of vitriol, you should just keep it in the bedroom with the rest of your weird fetishes.