I recently had a conversation that opened my eyes to a very big truth: tyranny is alive and well, and it is rearing its ugly head by trying to intimidate good people into silence. You see, I talked with someone through a social-media site called reddit and unfortunately that conversation ended with him threatening to kill me and many others. It wasn’t that I was being rude to him or egging him on. I was being kind and thoughtful while he was being rude and hateful. He wanted to kill me because I didn’t agree with him and he feared my ideas.
I would like to share this conversation with you and present what I learned from it, namely:
- People who accuse others of being close-minded are often close-minded themselves.
- These people insulate themselves from new ideas by believing that everyone who disagrees with them is a liar.
- They prefer to mock, threaten and attack people rather than debate the merits of the ideas they present.
- They don’t want to convince people that their own ideas are correct; they want to silence people or kill them if they differ in their opinions.
- Tyranny will result if people like this have their way and either murder or shut down people they disagree with.
- They often don’t have a solid foundation for their beliefs, so they feel it necessary to attack others rather than explain and defend their beliefs.
- Rational discussion is not possible with a person who assumes the worst about others and refuses to be open to new ideas.
It seems like many people with a Progressive agenda don’t want to win arguments; they want to silence dissent. That is what I learned when I posted a Libertarian article on reddit. I’m not a Libertarian, but I found the ideas and facts in this article to be compelling. A surprising conversation ensued. I apologize for the vileness of some of the words about to be shared, but I think they effectively show the darkness that we as a nation are facing.
A commenter on reddit said:
“To the morons who upvoted this. Do you enjoy lying to yourself? how does it feel to know that everything that you tell the world you believe in, you deep down inside know is absolute crap? How does it feel to know that you existence – is about as valuable as dung. Let me know…actually, don’t.”
Note the poor grammar, the frequent crude references, and the lack of attention to details in this writing style. Clearly, this person is upset. It’s interesting that this individual is not trying to counter the ideas given in the article he’s posting on. Rather, he is personally attacking the people who support the ideas contained in that article. He doesn’t even want to hear someone’s defense of the ideas he has failed to assail. He accused people of not even believing what they say because they don’t think the way he does.
He did attach a link to an article with a different perspective from the one I had posted at the end of his statement, but it actually didn’t help his case at all. An Editor’s Note at the end of that article admitted that the article lacked credibility and the author apologized profusely to her readers for the errors of judgment in the article.
Here was my response:
“I find that being polite is a better approach to take when trying to win people to your side of an argument. Anger doesn’t impress anyone.”
I was trying to calm him down and encourage him to speak rationally. I wanted him to present his arguments within a respectful context so he would have some hope of convincing people that he was correct. Unfortunately, he didn’t take my advice, and he instead responded:
“What makes you think I want people who push lies in my life as friends? I’d rather call you a prick, show you and the rest of the world that you extract value versus creating it, and let you live you own life in your cave of ignorance.”
He continued to label me and use malice rather than persuade me of his way of thinking. I decided to try one more time to help him make his case in a reasonable way:
“You don’t need to be their friend. Simple common courtesy is a useful tool in communicating effectively.”
But the conversation took an even more negative turn after that and it quickly led to a point where he threatened my life:
“I would prefer, if I had the freedom, to bash the skulls of those who look to lead those who are less able minded down the wrong path for their own personal benefit. I do not seek civil communication with those who do not seek truth.”
Now he is showing his true colors. He wants to be a murderer. If he can’t intimidate people into silence, he wants to kill them for saying things he doesn’t agree with. That is fascinating to me. Why would he say such a thing? He seems to be perfectly serious. He doesn’t want to change my mind; he wants me to stop speaking mine. And apparently he is willing to spill my brains if I don’t surrender my mind.
Unwilling to Listen
I didn’t realize at the time that I was speaking a different language than this individual. He was attempting to intimidate me while I was attempting to reason with him. He was using all sorts of coarse language and mistaken assumptions about me to justify his ideology and try to keep me from sharing information with him. He has built up a wall and refuses to let anyone through who disagrees with him. He thinks those people are inherently dishonest. That is sad because if he remains in that state he won’t be able to grow or learn new things.
On many occasions, I have tried to engage people online and help them think about things from a fresh perspective. But people often respond with anger and malice toward me and the sources of information that I wish to share with them. They usually don’t want to talk about new ideas but prefer to dismiss them out of hand because they don’t conform to their preconceived notions. They are all “lies” in their eyes, so they don’t even warrant an examination.
When confronted by something disagreeable to his sensibilities, the individual above tried insulting, shaming, threatening and attacking people to try to get them to keep their ideas to themselves. All of his tactics were negative. He assumed that people who approve of things he dislikes are lying to themselves. That’s not a reasonable assumption. Why think the worst about people you don’t even know? There are a lot of good people who may be confused and simply need to be persuaded of what is correct. But that was not the goal of this individual. He wasn’t trying to convince anyone to believe something different. As he pointed out at the end, he doesn’t want to help them join his side of the argument (a side which he never properly stated, by the way); he wants to kill them.
Tools of Tyranny
Is murder really the solution to disagreements? No. It is, however, the means that tyrants use to quell rational thought and spread terror so people are easier to rule. That is why it is so important for freedom of speech to reign supreme in the United States. That way, people can all speak their minds without fear of being murdered for their beliefs, and the best beliefs can emerge victorious.
Perhaps that is what this individual fears most: that his ideas are not the best. Maybe someone else has ideas that are better for the country as a whole and people individually. If he truly feels that his ideas are the best why would he try to stop others from even sharing their ideas? What would he have to fear from a healthy debate if he could clearly come out the victor? Seekers of truth should never seek to thwart others’ efforts to find the same truth they’re looking for. That would be a contradiction.
Frightened of Change
Someone who is angry that other people possess and share ideas that are different than his own probably has a weak foundation and is afraid of being challenged and having to change in some way. I am perfectly happy to admit that I don’t know everything. I am eager to learn more and improve myself each day. Many times, new information comes from unlikely sources so I try to leave lines of communication open.
Whether it’s silencing debate on politics, scientific inquiries, religious beliefs or anything else, this basically boils down to fear. It’s no surprise to see someone who is afraid lash out in anger. Hatred is a natural byproduct of fear. If I don’t fully understand something, I try to reserve judgment until I can gather more information. I am not frightened by change because I trust that there are certain things I am founded on that will never change, such as belief in God and that I am one of his children. With this foundational knowledge, I can wade through the uncertainty of life without fear of what I might find. I will question, learn, consider and reason through as much as possible to help me overcome fear and live as happily as possible.
A Rational Discussion
I was taught from an early age to speak respectfully to other people and always be honest. I tend not to be sarcastic or flippant in my speech because I want to be taken seriously. When I engage in a discussion, I try to always act according to these principles, which I always took to be common sense that everyone should abide by.
To me, a rational discussion should go like this:
- I share an idea.
- Someone shares their idea, which is different than mine.
- We discuss the merits and faults of each other’s idea while still being respectful and trying to understand each other’s perspective.
- We come to a decision about how to respond to the new information we’ve received. We can either ignore it or change our ideas because of it.
- We express our gratitude for the discussion.
In order for such a discussion to work, both parties need to be open to the possibility that they are wrong or that they don’t necessarily have all the facts on the matter they’re discussing. That is why the conversation with the individual above failed. He was unwilling to consider other possibilities and he didn’t want to show respect to others’ beliefs.
A Glimpse of Evil
Do you see now the evil that we face? I got a glimpse of it in my conversation with the individual above. I don’t think that he is evil, but the things he is doing could lead to a terrible conclusion: an end of liberty. Name-calling, threats of violence, desires to kill – these are all designed to keep people from using their minds to discover the truth. They are not tools that we, as rational people, should ever use. Rather, we should treat others with respect, and encourage them to use their minds to discover what is right and wrong.
I will not allow bullies to stymie my desire to learn and help others learn, as well. I would like to note that I have no ill feelings toward the individual I quoted above. I sincerely desire for him to be happy, but I cannot sacrifice my own happiness to give it to him. He would not find joy by killing me or anyone else, nor would he make the world a better place by doing so. That is what tyrants have done throughout the ages, and all they gained was fleeting power and eventual ruin. I will continue to ask questions and test the ideas of others to see which ones work and which ones don’t. I invite all to do the same.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
Thanks Rob. That was very insightful. It’s sad that there are people out there that are so blind to other’s opinions and are unwilling to even try to understand. I don’t think that it is required to accept other’s opinions, but one should be respectful of it and if you are going to try to counter one’s opinion, you must first try to understand it. I loved your point that even when making a counter (or a discussion) that it should be respectful and both parties have the right to leave without altering their own opinions, but hopefully they can accept some new aspect to become better.
I also think it is very sad that someone so “passionate” about political views would completely forget the most important thing that our government and country stands for… which is freedom. Freedom of thought, opinions, and even speech.
I hope he has a chance to read your post and whether he admits it or not, learns from his mistake.
Thank you so much, Jameson. You are definitely right. Respect is just a better tool for interacting with people. I can’t imagine it’s very easy to go through life always questioning people’s intentions and thinking they’re being disingenuous. I sure hope the person I mentioned in the article will learn to be kinder someday.
A good observation and a fine way to bring it out in discussion. Thank you for clarity and your ability to express with confidence the character of humility. Being humble is not a weakness but a strength, and through it we can conquer any and all fears of the unknown.
It’s my pleasure. I’m sorry that some people feel a need to be so coarse and inappropriate in their speech and actions. The world would be a better place if everyone simply followed the Golden Rule. I’m so glad you enjoyed my article. I hope everything is going well for you.