You Say Yes, I Say No

But does that mean we can’t respect each other? For some people, the answer, apparently, is “yes.”

I had an exchange on Twitter today with @X* which came about as a result of my declaration that I love Dick Cheney. I do. I can’t help it. I think his treatment by the press has been spectacularly unfair.

Here’s what followed:

@X: wow , I lost so much respect

@itsonlywords: Why, because I like Dick Cheney?

@X: yes, to the rest of the world, the man is a criminal

@itsonlywords: I’m sorry you feel that way.

No response. I couldn’t leave it alone, so I looked around for a stick with which to poke @X.

@itsonlywords: I’m curious. What is it exactly that you don’t like about Dick Cheney?

At this point @X could have responded with a list of reasons he doesn’t like the former VP, along with links to support his position. Or even a list with no backup. Then again, maybe not.

@X: if you have to ask, there is no use discussing it. We live in a different reality and world. Hes a criminal. I hope he rots

I believe in second (and even third and fourth!) chances, so I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.

@itsonlywords: No, seriously. List his crimes, I want to understand your position.

Apparently that question was so offensive that, not only did I not receive a response, @X blocked me. For those of you not familiar with Twitter, blocking a person prevents their updates from appearing to you.

Think about this. @X feels so strongly about Dick Cheney, it causes him to lose respect for another individual, yet when asked he can’t give even one reason why. Instead, he resorts to personal attacks, saying “if you have to ask, there is no use discussing it” (i.e., you’re too stupid to understand) and “we live in a different reality and world” (i.e., you seem to be a little off balance…are you off your meds?); he then repeats the claim that Cheney is a criminal, as though the mere fact of repetition makes it true. He feels so strongly about Dick Cheney that he calls him a criminal and hopes he rots, but can’t list a single crime.

Yet this belief, so passionately held, is apparently so fragile that it can’t withstand even the hint of a challenge. @X could simply have ignored my update about Dick Cheney; it was directed to another person, so no response was required from @X.

I found this exchange to be quite discouraging. I’ve been having great conversations via Twitter with people all across the political spectrum and this is the first time it’s ended badly. Obviously we all hold some opinions that are rooted in something other than fact. My high opinion of Dick Cheney, for example is based on my impression of him after listening to him speak and reading a few things he’s written. It may well be supported by facts, but I wouldn’t be able to cite them. Accordingly, I wouldn’t presume to challenge someone holding an opposing belief.

That a person can hold a belief so passionately with apparently so little factual basis for that belief and act so swiftly and decisively, with so little debate, leaves me without much hope for a return to civility in the public forum.

*@X’s name has been changed to protect his identity. In fairness, the possibility exists that @X could have defended is position with facts but chose not to do so; however it seems unlikely to me that a passionately held belief would not be defended if it were possible to do so.


Filed under Politics

14 responses to “You Say Yes, I Say No

  1. kuddos to you and very well written. No matter which side of the fence you are on your opinion is respected or should be. I totally agree with you about Dick Cheney and could say a lot about liberals but will leave it at that.

  2. I’m in agreement with you Paula. He is a brilliant man and anything negative about him is purely manufactured. Particularly about Haliburton. He had to divest himself from them to become VP yet people still insist he is a corporate puppet. All I know is he served 3 administrations and was a Senator. I think the DOD never was better than it was under his direction.
    Having served to augment his security after 9-11 for 3 years I do have a certain bias, I admit it.
    His wife Lynne is a Rock star and she autographed her books for our local elementary school.

  3. You found a @Twit on @Twitter! I guess it’s to be expected but it always comes as a disappointment.

  4. Twitter discussions of different viewpoints can be rough. Complete anonymity plus a little chip on a shoulder equals an altogether unpleasant experience much of the time.

  5. Hannah

    So just because this guy wasn’t in the mood to debate with you, that somehow means that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about?

    • paulag1955

      When I’m merely “not in the mood to debate,” I don’t challenge people on their views. Or if I foolishly did, I would come back and say I wasn’t in the mood or didn’t have time, not insult them and them block them. But that’s just me.

      All that aside, I wasn’t even looking for a debate. Just asking for specifics on why he felt so strongly about Dick Cheney. As I said a the end of the piece, I’m not prepared to debate about Dick Cheney. I just wanted to understand @X’s position.

  6. Hannah

    You want to know why thousands of people in this country dislike Cheney? Then read this: Note that that was written by patriots from the US Armed Forces, which just goes to show that it’s not just liberals who disliked him.

  7. I agree and have Tweeted the same. I was SO wishing he was younger, or in better health, so he could have run for President.

  8. I’m waiting for them to connect his daughter Liz somehow to Haliburton now after her great showing on Norah O’Donnell.
    Dick Cheney and George Bush together kept America safe. The proof of that unfortunately will come soon I’m afraid as Obama systematically dismantles out security system.

  9. V. Snow

    I just wanted to add really quick – that I think too many people do not WANT any open debate – a great many people who shout for tolerance of their opinions or actions, have little respect for those of others. That IS a broad generalization, and I of course allow for exceptions to exist, but the foundation of many opinions and beliefs held by people with those tendencies to be intolerant, are based on a very fundamental lack of respect for other people. Civil discourse and exchanges of ideas can only be maintained in a mutually respecting environment.

    I can get worked up about things – but if I am not prepared to have an all out debate over an issue with someone – I attempt to politely and tactfully withdraw. Or I don’t engage myself to begin with. I think your assumptions about this person are right on target – of course there may be some OTHER reasons for his/her behavior but I really think it is unlikely. The reason you have no more information to go on is directly due to the fact that he or she blocked you – so you are being perfectly reasonable in your assessment.

  10. Bunny Ramey

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  11. On point. Great piece, and your anecdote echoes my experiences elsewhere. There can be very little useful discussion when such a significant portion of the population holds passionate beliefs inversely proportional to their factual knowledge. It’s not only a shame, but it’s dangerous.

  12. flicka47

    I had my own @x that I had followed and discussed opinions back and forth since joining twitter. Only problem was it became obvious that he didn’t really want to discuss,as much as throw out insults.Ones that had no basis to discuss. He’d would drop them in as replies after I had signed off.this happened about 6-8 times in the last month,3 of them in the same week that I finally had enough,and told him that he was being dishonest,and had no real desire to “discuss”anything,and since that was the case he should stop following me. He did,and he became the 1st person that I unfollowed.

    Unfortunately folks like both of our @Xs do not want honest discussion, they want either to make you(or, perhaps someone who is listening)parrot back their beliefs,or condemn you along with whatever,or whoever it is they are trying to tar and feather(am I a racist now?).

    No easy answer,but I think their echo chamber is smaller than ours….and a little more skitzo than ours too.

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