Double Standards in Postmodern Dialogue

On more than one occasion, an acquaintance who assumes we will disagree with one another will heavily imply if not outright say to me: “I’m not interested in whatever critique you may have for my ideas. If you have some strong or overbearing opinion about what I’m about to say, please keep it to yourself. I like talking to well-balanced individuals who are placid like a windless lake. Those persons are the ideal. You should strive to be like them.”

This is (as our populations are apt to say) what it is. I would simply think of these persons as persons who have been injured by some verbally abusive parent or teacher in their past; in other words, while not being dismissive or condescending, I would accept this kind of talk for what it is (odd and defensive) and give the person the benefit of the doubt.

Yet invariably – sooner or later – this same person will begin feeling out how best to launch a guerilla war against a perceived position they oppose: their fury and sense of justice compels them, and though they avoid all-out war they press as far as they possibly can, just short of provoking an outright reply.

Now, two things can be said. In charity we can say that this second part (the guerilla warfare) is inspired by the angst or injury that inspired the first part (the defensiveness), and we can be patient. That’s only Christian charity. But, objectively, we can also say that this is quite unfair and is in fact something quite ripe for patient, charitable, but forthright critique.

When people speak about the “snowflake” generation, this is what I think of. If you are one of these persons in your daily conversations, for the sake of everyone around you and the good and health of society, kindly cut it out. You are better than this. If you want to critique something, do so, and gird up your loins for a possible disagreement.

-bnt