Some people listen to the Opinionated Bastard, consider his or her words, then make their own decision about whatever the question is, without bitterness or rancour (yes, Gentle Readers, I refer to myself, most of the time). Others hear the Opinionated Bastard and take his or her words as a personal assault. At best, the friendship is strained but heals in time; at worst, the friendship shatters into jagged shards of bitterness and resentment.
It happened again today. Against the better judgement of my Inner Diplomat, I decided to answer with what I thought to a question implicitly posed. In return, I was told I didn't know what I was talking about (though my actual points were not addressed), told my "male priviledge" made me anyway unqualified to discuss the matter and then found I was barred from the discussion and, indeed, from the filter (yes, it was on livejournal).
The details don't matter. Whether I was right or wrong doesn't matter. What matters (to me) is how far too many people (not me, I hope I don't flatter myself) take contradiction as a personal attack, rather than a respectful disagreement.
Which thought takes me back not too far off 10 years, not long before the turn of the century.
Erin was an old friend, whom I had met in high school. She was multi-talented - skilled with images and words - quick to laugh, eccentrically well-read, passionately political and courageous. Though we were never lovers (she was gay) we shared a bed more than once, took a road-trip to visit my mum in Sudbury and stayed in touch despite the vagaries of time and space.
Erin is why I am not still a secretary today. In 1999, I was growing to hate my work situation and said as much while sharing a pint on Bloor street with Erin. "There's an opening where I'm working," she said. "Why don't you apply?"
"What do I know about computers or the internet?"
"We'll train you," she said. And so I applied and was hired (and she *wasn't* on the hiring committee!) and thus found myself her coworker.
Flash forward a bit more than a year and watch I and a number of my co-workers head out for pints after the working day is done.
All went as such evenings should until the, er, "definition of science" came up.
I know longer recall the context, but in essence, Erin said something to the effect that Science makes no claim toward object truth, that Science "sees" itself as merely one world-view among many.
"No!" I said, "that's not true. The basic, the fundamental assumption of Science is that the universe operates according to rules - to laws - that are, at least in principal, open to investigation and subsequent understanding through the scientific method. If in fact, it turns out that gravity works in one way on earth and in an entirely different way on a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri, then the scientific method is wrong, because its basic assumption is wrong."
At this point, I don't remember what Erin thought the scientific method was, but I know I was right. And I was unable to shut up and let her talk bullshit about something that could easily be looked up. (We weren't arguing about how the universe works; we were arguing about how Science assumed the universe works.)
To make a long story short, Erin shouted at me to "Shut up!" and, when I wouldn't, she said, "Fuck you!" and stormed out of the bar. Though we continued to work in the same (small) office for a few months, we didn't speak again until a couple of years ago, when we ran into each other on the street and exchanged pleasantries - and even lj usernames, but the friendship ended that night.
I was sad about that end. I had considered Erin one of my best friends up to that point (and I think she thought the same of me), but I was not willing to apologize for standing up for what I believed was "the truth" - and I suppose, neither was she.
Point being, I didn't end the friendship because I thought she was wrong about something; I ended it because she took personally my belief that she was wrong.
I suspect this entry is of little or no interest to anyone but myself. But fuck it.
It's my journal
And I'll bore if I want to,
Bore if I want to ...