I want to touch on a topic spreading throughout WordPress. And first I want to make this clear–sometimes when people give their thoughts, the way they express them comes off as stating opinions or viewpoints as facts or 100% truth. Just about everything I write is my perspective, my observation, my viewpoint…even if stated as fact. The assumption might be that this goes without saying, but the tone still can be bothersome. It gets kind of know-it-all-ish or makes you seem close-minded even if you’re not trying to be, so I want to be sure to make it known the following is just how I see it.
A blogger here has started a project on opinions. The response to it seems to be good so far. I took a look at the template, and a couple of the questions stood out to me. The questions were about “the right to an opinion” and being “allowed an opinion”. I was at work, so I had to comment through my cell phone. Basically, I said those two questions don’t make sense to me, which they don’t. Unless you’re one of those power texters, you can’t really type much using a cell phone, and since I barely text I couldn’t really type much.
I haven’t read much else on or related to the project, though I read a few submissions posted on other blogs to see how other people addressed those questions about the right to an opinion. I did see where the blogger posted about a Saudi activist being punished for a blog or site he had to discuss religion, seemingly to voice some disagreement with Islam. The blogger says, “Opinion is still punished in much of the world! If you don’t believe that read the article.”
See, I don’t believe “opinion” is punished, although that may be the intent–maybe the Saudi court wanted to punish an actual opinion in an attempt to make it look wrong or make it disappear. But I believe what’s actually being punished is people, for expressing opinions or opening (or attempting to open) avenues to do so. And I think the article supports that. To me, the two things are different.
I think we all live in countries where the powers-that-be don’t want us to think certain ways, but our countries’ powers respond differently to that depending on the country. You might be in a country in Africa and start a blog advocating for gay rights when your people in power are fervently against it, and you might be arrested or face physical harm and have your blog taken down. But someone else in that same country might think the exact same things, just this person doesn’t have a blog or use any other means of expression. The person who hasn’t expressed an opinion is fine; the person who has is catching all the schitt. More than likely, both of these people are still going to have the same opinion, regardless of the government’s response to the blog. But the person without the blog gets to keep that opinion without consequence.
I believe “right” and allowance go with “expression.” “Opinion” is something that exists regardless of what anyone else wants, does or says, and no one can take it from you and it doesn’t have to be expressed. And it can only be changed if you want it to be or allow it to be. Punishment, consequences, censorship–those come when you open your mouth or put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper. All of us, regardless of where we live, live that every day. I know I do. We lose jobs in America. We lose friends. Votes, media favor, record sales, fans, ratings. We get harassed and alienated. So we learn to say nothing or do it anonymously. A few of us say, “Fuck it, I’ll deal with the consequences” or “I’ll apologize later and pretend I didn’t mean it.” We see that last one play out every week in the media, especially when it comes to race and sexual orientation.
So, when I say the questions don’t make sense to me, I only mean they don’t make sense to me. Apparently, it made some sense to at least 30 people. A lot of schitt that makes sense to others doesn’t make sense to me, and vice versa. It’s a matter of perspective, interpretation, assumption, semantics…things like that.
Oh, and…one of the participants in the project responded that we are not born with rights; they are something people have fought to have. I don’t entirely agree. If I’m born after the fight and it was decided post-fight that everyone henceforth will have such fought-for right, then I am born with the right.
Just opinions, folks–all WP is full of is opinions anyways.