John Scalzi, Moderate Beliefs, The Other Side, and Writers with Political Opinions
I love reading John Scalzi’s blog and I think it’s quite obvious his site has been an influence over here. His is one of the few sites where I not only read the political posts, but contemplate them and, occasionally, find myself changing an opinion because of it. He has the rare combination of excellent writing ability, sound logical skills, and opinions that aren’t an affront to common sense or extended analysis. In fact, most of his arguments get stronger the more you think about them.
Aside from a cocky confidence in my writing ability, the other two I tend to lack in varying degrees when making an argument. This, more than anything else, is why I tend to avoid writing about controversial topics here. It’s not because I’m afraid people won’t like me because of what I believe but that my rhetorical skills won’t properly convey what I believe and people won’t like me for what it seems my beliefs are. I’ve already admitted to being a Christian here which for many people is enough for them to assume what my beliefs are on any given subject. This is also why I’m commenting on John’s latest piece over here on my turf rather than in his comment section. Well, that and when a piece gets to the 500 comment mark it seems silly to try and be part of that conversation when I can start a new one over here.
I’ve commented a few times on his site always with questionable results. One time I think I even made it sound like I don’t regularly vote and couldn’t care less to do so. The other reason I’d like to have this conversation over here is because my thoughts are less on the specific points of his piece and more on my reaction to it and my reaction to other’s reactions to it.
Being a Christian and a conservative (though I’m not even sure what that even means in today’s political climate where my beliefs haven’t changed in years but suddenly I’m feeling like a liberal compared to the official Republican positions on so many issues) in a community of writers and artists, I’m used to having a minority opinion on controversial issues. It doesn’t help that the majority voices for “my” side on these issues tend to be the most bumbling, intolerant, rhetorically-challenged voices available. As I try to traffic in subtlety, curiosity, and reason in my opinions, others keep trying to corral me into one black or white, all or nothing flash mob to drown out the other side.
So when John comes along with a piece like his, a satire about the ridiculousness of the official Republican stance on abortion in the case of rape, it’s hard to find the right venue and style to point out that there are intelligent, kind, reasonable people who may not believe with the delivery of the message or the exact opinion being given, but are closer in their beliefs to Richard Mourdock than to Barack Obama. I am one of those people.
But where I differ from the majority of today’s Republicans, the majority of those in the church I was raised in, and the majority of my family members is that these are my personal beliefs and I don’t believe they should be imposed on anyone other than myself. I have a wife and I have a daughter and I would be devastated for either of them to be in the position of making a choice regarding rape or abortion. I also have very strong beliefs of what I think would be the right choice in that situation. But I know it’s a belief born of my own particular experiences, education, and understanding of things and not one I would force on either of them let alone random strangers.
Becky and I have had several discussions about this in hypothetical and we both share the same opinion. But I can’t say that if she were in that situation in real life that her opinion wouldn’t change. Hell, I can’t say that my opinion wouldn’t change in that situation. I would hope that she trusts me enough as a partner and husband to consult me in the decision, but ultimately it’s a choice she would make on her own because she is the only one who will account for her life on this earth at it’s end.
I’m not perfect and while some of my beliefs are rooted in logic and solid education, other are based on faith and many others on emotion, or flawed understanding, or fear, or anger, or rebelliousness. This doesn’t make me any worse than you and it doesn’t make me any better. It makes me human. Please treat me as such.