“It’s my opinion” “I’m entitled to my opinion”
Have you any idea how much those words set my teeth on edge? Let me give you a hint. Imagine nails on a blackboard. Someone else using up the last of the milk and putting the carton back in the fridge. The whine of a mosquito right by your ear as you’re trying to get to sleep. That guy on the bus who insists on playing his music loud enough that you can sing along. Put all of those together, add a pounding headache and let’s throw in having just stepped in a freezing puddle that is seeping its way through your shoes. And you still haven’t had your damn breakfast. And someone just drank the last of the coffee.
That comes close to the level of headdesking, facepalming, oh-god-not-this-again frustration bubbling up in me whenever I hear that phrase.
We all have opinions. Isn’t that great? We all have opinions, and we all have the right to say whatever words we like in the vast majority of situations without getting carted off to jail for it. This is an excellent fact. It’s a thing that many people fought and sacrificed a hell of a lot for.
And do you really, really think that the people who fought for freedom of speech did it so that some nitwit could justify their ridiculous beliefs with “you have your opinion, and this is mine”?
Let me back up a second here. Before I go any further, I’d like to state for the record that no matter how irritating I find this, it is still marginally better than, say, the Inquisition. Okay, significantly better. I’m not saying we should go back to the old days of rampant censorship or anything. Not, of course, that that was particularly long ago, or that you’d have to go particularly far away to find it today.
But I digress. From a point that I haven’t even made yet.
It would be entertaining if I got to the end of this post without making an actual point, wouldn’t it?
Saying “it’s my opinion” is meaningless. It adds nothing to a conversation. It isn’t an argument, it isn’t a justification. It isn’t even a grunt of acknowledgement that the other person has said something. It’s less than all of those.
What “it’s my opinion” says is this: I can’t be bothered coming up with a reason why I think the way that I do. In addition, I can’t be bothered listening to a word you’re saying to me. If you’ve put effort into communicating with me, you really needn’t have bothered. I have this thing called an ‘opinion’. I’m too lazy to have it challenged or contemplate the possibility that it isn’t correct.
In fact, whether my opinion is correct or not is absolutely irrelevant to me. I don’t care if my opinion is as real as the moon being made out of a lovely sweet Emmental*.
What “I have my opinion, I’m entitled to my opinion” means is that I don’t care about truth.
And, well, as a person who cares a great deal about truth, this matters a hell of a lot to me. It doesn’t just matter to me because that’s my opinion- although, of course, it is. I’m willing to back up that opinion. I’ll justify it. Because truth matters to me for reasons. Having an accurate picture of the world around us is what allows us to base our decisions on reality. It allows us to make ethical judgements based on real-life factors. It ensures we’re not accidentally trampling over others in our ignorance. It also, incidentally, is what led to my being able to communicate to you in a great big string of ones and zeroes. Truth about how the world works. It’s awesome.
*Everyone knows it’s Gouda. And it’s kind-of old and a bit dry by now. At least, that’s my opinion. You have yours. I have mine.