Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sometimes Change Is Necessary

Recently, I've had a lot of people contact me and warn me that I need to be very cautious regarding my personal safety, because there are apparently some people who not only can not handle the fact that I persist in pointing out logical fallacies, but they seem to be moving toward building personal vendettas against me.

These are not admonishments that I take lightly, as there is plenty of evidence that there are many people who have endeavored to engage me in discussion who do not have the ability to handle those who persist in defending facts which challenge their world views. There have been some rude, inappropriate and downright disturbing things said directly to me, to others about me, and even statements that indicate intentions to bring harm to my person.

I'm no stranger to death threats. I have received them quite often since I began speaking publicly regarding atheism and critical thinking. Sadly, there are many people in the U.S. - the land of the free which endeavors to have separation of church and state (although not always succeeding) - who will threaten the lives of those who speak out against their superstitious beliefs in much the same way that extremist Muslims and members of Al Qaeda do in Middle Eastern countries.

Those who do not directly threaten the lives of those who disagree with them do things that are almost as bad. Whether through character assassination, dwelling on a person's past mistakes and/or shortcomings, libel, slander, or just good old-fashioned exclusion and/or discriminatory behavior (or combinations thereof) these methods of expressing hostility and/or hatred of those who do not share their views or speak out against those views is anything but that of an evolved, intelligent human being.

Unfortunately, this behavior is not limited to those who are religious and dislike those of other religions or without religions. It also occurs when people lack the tolerance for others who do not share their political views or who do not share their attachment to popular opinion, which often is not supported by facts or even solid reasoning.

Fortunately, I have many friends with whom I can "agree to disagree". We are able to discuss our differences and occasionally learn a thing or two from one another. We are friends and remain friendly despite the fact that we do not always agree on the issues we discuss.

However, there are those who are not able to achieve this balance, and for them, it simply is not tolerable for anyone to persist as strongly as they do in stating their case. It seems that the person with the weaker argument usually grows tired of their failed attempts to bully the other person into agreeing with them, and the end result is that they resort to personal attacks, profanity, or in extreme cases pathological hatred moving toward violence or premeditated plans thereof.

Unfortunately, even though this is 2011, there are many males in this world who simply can not handle outspoken females who disagree with them and/or "show them up" in any way. It's a very fragile ego that suffers from this deficiency, but I have found since moving back to "the bible belt" that there are more of these types in the south than I recall encountering in any other part of the country where I have lived and/or worked.

Since I began actively participating in social networking groups, I have endeavored not to block anyone simply because they disagree with me, even if they at times become disrespectful. I understand that many issues we discuss are very emotionally hot topics, and we all have times when we allow ourselves to get carried away.

Lately, however, there have been individuals who have become so pathologically irate at the fact that I am not willing to back down from my statements any more than they are that they seem to have converted me in their minds from merely someone with strong and differing opinions from their own into something of an enemy.

Why anyone would find me so off-putting or annoying and yet wouldn't block ME from THEIR social network is beyond me. It seems that there must be some sort of emotional gratification extracted from whatever exchanges they have with me or they wouldn't continue to engage in them. Yet still, the hateful comments (none of which I have reciprocated) seem to have become something of a hobby for a few people.

Behind the scenes, information has come to light that has necessitated some protective action on my behalf, and it isn't just an isolated person and/or issue. As a result, I have had to re-examine my view and have now reached the conclusion that there are people who must be excluded from my online social circles if only because they themselves seem to be affected in an unhealthy way by their interactions with me.

Social networking is, in my view, supposed to be enjoyable, educational, and fulfilling for all involved. Sometimes it isn't all of those things, but when it becomes tainted with negativity and grade-school level behavior, those elements must be removed in order for the value of the group to be maintained.

It makes me sad to have to do it, but now that I have learned of several separate situations where people are reacting in extremely negative ways to my relentless refusal to be silenced simply because they don't like what I am saying, I feel that there is no viable alternative.

I will close by saying that I don't tolerate double standards. Anyone who thinks that I am too persistent in my arguments against them should consider that if they weren't equally as persistent, the conversation would have no where to go. It is not acceptable for one person to belt out their points and then criticize another for having a rebuttal to those points.

In other words: If you can't take it, don't dish it out.


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