I read this opinion piece, and it raised a number of questions in my mind. It’s called “I Love America, It’s Americans I Can’t Stand.”
For years, my friend Jenny Boylan and I have had a recurring conversation about the purpose and value of our work. Jenny, an LGBTetc activist, has always been a buoyant believer in the power of language to overcome ignorance, misconception, and prejudice. She says: “It is impossible to hate anyone whose story you know.” She engages with the public through public speaking, TV, and social media.
I have trouble with this idea, because it seems like a waybof arguing that is based on emotions rather than on arguments relating to facts, logic, etc. Hey, I’m sure if I heard the bank robber’s story that I would feel a great deal of sympathy for him, but does that mean we should not put him in jail?
What are we to make of this when it comes to issues such as homosexual “marriage,” etc? I’m talking about on a personal level. Over the holidays, I heard a (very secular) young person really lament this issue as he thought that these people love each other and why would anyone want to mess with that? It was obvious to him that only hatred could be against love.
I have heard his story, so I had sympathy with him, but at the same, I also know that what I heard if his story is only a part of the full story. What I heard was what he chose to focus on in the process of coming to his conclusions.
So I don’t put a lot of stock in “stories” as an ethical means of changing people’s opinions: hard cases make bad law, and all that, but maybe I’m wrong?
And I would also like to know, if it turns out to be the appropriate thing to do, how to counter this sort of “debate technique.”