I’ve been told this a lot lately. I “shouldn’t judge people because I don’t know their story”. I “shouldn’t judge, because glass houses, and stones, and stuff”. I “shouldn’t judge because I haven’t walked a mile in their shoes”.
Certainly, knee-jerk reactions and unwarranted stereotypes are bad, and I don’t mean to imply otherwise. However, when people are acting, and talking, like idiots, for their own good, and potentially for the good of those around them, we need to speak up!
If you have foregone vaccinating your child for no medically warranted reason, you are a menace to society. You are literally risking your child’s life and mine. I’m not going into the details here, this is a settled discussion! There is no “honest debate” going on here. If you have any argument for your actions that don’t include “this doctor or peer-reviewed, published scientific study gave us, because of our specific situation, a strong recommendation not to vaccinate”, YOU ARE AN IDIOT! I’m judging you. I specifically mean you disrespect.
If you walk into a meeting or public debate without even bothering to learn any of the details of the subject you are discussing, you are not earning respect. It doesn’t matter if you agree with me or not. If you’re on my side, just sit quietly and let the grown-ups talk. If you’re on the other side, just sit quietly and let the grown-ups talk. Do you notice the common denominator here? It’s perfectly possible for people possessing the same data to have honestly differing opinions or analyses. However, if every time you open your mouth, you show ignorance of the underlying facts, it tells everyone else that you are either a) an incompetent boob who isn’t even aware of his unsuitability to participate in the discussion, or b) an ass who enjoys hearing himself talk so much that he doesn’t care that he is not suited to the discussion. There’s no shame in ignorance, only in the inability or unwillingness to acknowledge and do something about it. If you are still talking, YOU ARE AN IDIOT! I’m judging you. I specifically mean you disrespect.
Likewise, I strongly support the idea that rational discussion is not best served by rude or emotional content, but keep in mind that your perception of what someone wrote or said is not necessarily accurate. If your only reaction to someone’s multifaceted and structured statements on complex and important topics has to do with your opinion of how rude or judgemental you infer they are being with their statements (“what you are really saying is”, “you don’t know this person’s story”, etc.), you are not participating constructively, you are taking pot-shots, presumably to feed your ego in some way. If you do this, YOU ARE AN IDIOT! I’m judging you. I specifically mean you disrespect.
In each of these examples, I don’t literally mean “you are an idiot”, of course, I’m expressing a colloquial assessment of thought processes. I’m saying “this position is irrational or ignorant, and has no valid place in our society.” I’m just saying it in a way that sounds as rude as possible to make my point. Showing disrespect for someone’s actions or ideas is not exclusively an attack on that person. If it’s based upon knowledge and/or reason, an assessment is entitled to “judge”. That’s actually the definition of “assessment!”