A few people have congratulated me over the amount of comments that I have received in the last week or so. To be honest though, most of those comments can be attributed to just a handful of posters, which makes it somewhat less of an achievement. The number of hits, while nice, isn’t my motivation for writing in this blog. My motivation is the act of writing itself. Feedback though, is always a nice thing, and I’ll never say no to it in any of its forms. Saying that, it has been somewhat disappointing to see the number of blog lists that I have been culled from in the last few days. Freedom of expression must include the right to offend. It is how a person deals with a contrarian view that decides if a discussion proceeds in a manner that is positive or negative. Unfortunately, the majority of differring opinions with my own approached the argument in an ad hominem manner. You discredit the argument by discrediting the arguer.

Most people live in a box made from their own experiences. Their method of disgesting information is to digest within the confines of their box. Thus if there is something that they strongly disagree with then it must by rights be disagreed with within their boxes parameters, as that is the only expereince that they have. If the topic does not even fit within their box, being so far out of their own experiences, then they have a choice: they can either attempt to use critical thinking in an attempt to understand or they can file it under the simple headings of ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Thus, filing it under ‘bad’, the logical step is to then personally attack the person saying this differing opinion. Another way to reach an understanding of ones position in this way is to see what other like-minded people think of the argument. If they are all saying that the person is bad then it is much easier to come to a quick judgement without having to resort to critical thinking. Thus when another blog links to me and in the link itself calls me a ‘complete bigot’, then it has poisoned the well for its readers who are attempting to make a quick judgement.

A comment on the Righteous orbs post takes this to extremes. He is an exerpt from it:

“… a) Why are all rogues always like this Adam guy?
b) Adam seems to be so far into his white, male privilege he can’t see the wood for the… OMGWTFBBQTHATSMALEPHALLICSYMBOLISMZOMGWHEREISFREUDWHENYOUNEEDHIM?
c) I’m really not at all surprised to see these attitudes coming from a male in Sydney based on attitudes I know for a fact are issues in that city and country (c.f. recent UN report on endemic discrimination and racism in Australia, google it for more info and while you are at it also look up “Cronulla Riots”). And yeah, I am implying that Adam would support that bollocks. It’s actually scarey how many people do support it.
d) Adam even says in his “about me” section that he is a bigot. Makes me wonder why he is bothering to defend himself with comments like “I marched in the Sydney Mardi Gras 20 years ago” implying “See? I wasn’t a bigot then therefore I can’t be one now!” I CALL SHENANIGANS!”

The poster has formed his opinion already and then come looking for ways to support it. Lets leave out the awful stereotyping in point A, as well as the meaningless chatter in point B and move to point C. It is interesting that he assumes that I live in Sydney, (based on my statement in one of the threads that I marched in the Sydney Gay mardi gra over 20 years ago to support some friends), when on my about page it clearly states that I live in Italy. I am not even from Sydney, I come from Perth. I merely travelled across to Sydney for that occassion. And even if I were from Syndey, it is once again a gross generalisation in an attempt to support a pre-made theory.
I know that he did in fact look at my about page, because he attempts to quote it in Point D. As far as me stating in my about page that I am a bigot, that surprised me somewhat. So much that I had to take another look. I think I may have found the offending type:

“… My views are conceited, ignorant, unamusing and insulting. I hope that you enjoy them as much as my dog does.”

I suppose that if you are desperately searching for ways to support your viewpoint then you could twist this any way you wish. Readers with critical thinking abilities will most probably be able to recognise this as an attempt at sarcasm. I thought the dog part gave it away.

I am not attempting to attack this person, and have no wish to re-start another flame war. I am merely using it as an example of why critical thinking is so important, and how in the blogging world at present, particularly amongst bloggers themselves, this seems to be clearly lacking. Thinking outside of your box and attempting to understand what a person is actually trying to say is a wonderful skill to have. I just wish more bloggers and readers would try to learn it.