Giving Up

by Stripes Joplin about a year ago in activism

Why I've Stopped Arguing Empathy With Hateful People

Giving Up

I have decided that I’m done arguing with bigoted people. First, I’m chronically ill. I just can’t afford that kind of stress anymore. I need to focus on getting better and I can’t do that if I’m arguing with hateful assholes all the time.

I don’t know how to explain to some of these people that you should feel empathy for others. I don’t know how to express that the struggles of others should strike a chord with you if these people don’t understand it already.

How do I explain that we should all care about other people to someone who calls any person who feels anything a “snowflake?”

How do I explain to hateful people that the lives of non-human beings are just as valuable as the lives of humans?

How do I explain to racists that Black Lives Matter?

How do I explain to sexists that women deserve equality because we’re human beings and our gender does not make us lesser than anyone?

How do I explain to a xenophobe that Islam is not our enemy?

How do I explain to the Trump administration and a large number of right-wing whack jobs that babies don’t fucking belong in cages?

If someone knows please tell me how because I’ve used all the words I can conjure. I have tried to open the eyes of others who are less than open-minded and help them to meet themselves more deeply. Every time I suggest something like self-reflection or empathy or basic respect for other people, hateful people come out of the woodwork in droves to spew all manner of hate at me. It’s not worth trying to get through to those people anymore. I believe in the good in people as much as I can (thanks, r/upliftingnews), but I also know that there are people in whom goodness does not dwell. Not even a tiny spark. It took a long time to finally realize that not everyone will be considerate and good just because I am.

The people who call people like me snowflakes and who wear “Fuck Your Feelings” t-shirts are the same people who were crying for civility when Sarah Sanders was politely asked to leave a restaurant because she was complicit in locking babies in literal fucking cages.

So we’re “libtards” and “snowflakes,” but they want civility? What a joke. Not to mention, these are grown adults using a form of the word “retarded” as an insult. Are we not past that in 2018? I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the same people didn’t care when Donald Trump mocked a disabled journalist.

I have gotten into so many arguments with bigots of all kinds since the 2016 election. I am actually pretty disappointed in myself. I grew up with poor conflict resolution skills and I worked hard to “rewire” my brain to deal with anger and frustration differently. I feel like all the racists, homophobes, sexists, xenophobes, and apparently literal Nazis that have come out of the woodwork in the past two years have undone my progress.

Their behavior and perspective are so maddening that there have been times I haven’t been able to help but be ruthless with my words because it’s all they understand.

Talking to them doesn’t work. Arguing with them doesn’t work. Even if you make a good point, they’re not going to consider it and change their point of view. They’re not even going to hear it.

If you have a genuine desire to make the world a better place, your efforts are better spent in places you can effect real change. Nothing you or I say is going to affect a bigot positively. They want to hate. They thrive on it. Until someone can admit their prejudice is wrong, you can’t help them reason their way out of it.

A study recently concluded that who you hate depends on how smart you are. The dumber a person is, the more likely they are to be racist, sexist, homophobic, bigoted, etc. and the smarter a person is, the more likely they are to hate racists, sexists, etc. What that really means is: there is now scientific evidence documented in a reputable publication confirming that people who hate other people because of the color of their skin or who they love or their gender or what they believe are stupid and the more hateful they are the dumber they are.

That feels like a win in this sea of ever-deepening shitwater.

I’ve decided I’m done arguing with bigots because if everything Trump has done so far (funny, I have yet to meet or speak to a bigoted asshole who doesn’t support Trump) hasn’t been enough to deter support, nothing will be. As long as I live, I will never understand how him making fun of a disabled journalist wasn’t the end of it all. I’ll never understand how people whom I know have developmentally disabled people in their families voted for him.

I have to remember that these people are enjoying the conflict. They like to fight, they like to cause conflict, and they like to get reactions from people who disagree with them. You’re not going to reach them. All we’re doing by arguing with them is giving them a platform. Nothing snaps them out of their fevered hate-frenzy like not matching their energy, because it makes them angry. They’re no longer having fun.

I’m not saying don’t speak out against injustice. I would never, ever suggest that. I’m saying speak out where change can be made. An argument with a bigot is not a good place to try to create change.

These are the people that killed Heather Heyer last year in Charlottesville and then defended themselves saying she was fat and her life was meaningless because she was over 30 and didn’t have children. There is nothing that we could say to these people that will resonate with them if the death of an innocent young woman doesn’t.

I officially give up on this kind of person. There are so many other ways in which I can do good in this world. Fighting with what is essentially a hateful box of rocks is not good way to use my time. You’re officially on your own, bigots. The last person who believes there’s hope for everyone no longer believes it exists for you.

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Stripes Joplin


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