Freedom to Disagree

For someone who talks as much as I do, it’s pretty hard to render me speechless. Over the last two weeks, alot has been written and discussed regarding Anna Nicole Smith, the comments made by Tim Hardaway, “The Secret” and the new Tyler Perry movie, “Daddy’s Little Girls”. I belong to a local listserv and I’ve been watching silently. Watching and reading most of the comments about these topics, as they’ve ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other. I’ve had one particular comment to post, but instead I decided to write a blog about it. It’s not about Anna Nicole (me thinks foul play), Tim Hardaway (absolute idiot), “The Secret” (duh) or “Daddy’s Little Girls” (D+/C-). I’ve wanted to say this, why can’t we disagree without personally attacking each other or becoming personally offended and highly emotional? I’m at the point where I’m on the verge on cancelling my membership to this listserv. Maybe it’s the wrong group of folks for me. There are some great folks, but maybe a few too many close minded ones for the kid.

As my girl Creole often says, please give your opinion but be respectful. Have people in general lost the art of a good debate? Is it impossible, in today’s society of “feelings” and “sensitivities”, to have an open dialogue, without someone getting nasty? Since when did I have to agree with the majority, simply because? If I surrounded myself with people who agreed with everything I said, we’d be like a damn Amen choir. (Is it bad to use “damn” and “Amen” in the same sentence?)

Let me be a little more specific with my point. Do women know who to discuss an issue? Do women know how to have an actual dialogue and debate? Now clearly, I don’t mean all women. But it seems that we (women) are the first group to take personal offense at someone else’s opinion, during a dialogue. Is it all women, or all black women more sensitive? I know folks like Creole, TndrHrt, LaBella Noire (and a bunch of other folks that I’m not listing *lol*) can relate their opinions in a rational, concise way and they don’t burst into tears, write in all capitals or end their comments with “and that’s all I’m gonna say” with the first person that disagrees with them. Remember one of Darius’s lines to Nina in “Love Jones”? “Girl, you stomping down the street like somebody stole your fuckin’ bike!”. That’s what the sista’s in these dialogues remind me of.

It seems to me that boys and men, disagree and keep it moving. And realize that I’m not talking about “stoopit people” (courtesy Creole) and people who are intentionally trying to offend or criticize. They should be dealt with. *lol* I’m referring to basic discussions where we all have our own opinions. It seems that if I don’t agree with the majority, my opinion isn’t valid. In particular, folks on my listserve were being attacked for being angered by Tim Hardaway’s comments (the attackers claimed free speech), agreeing with “The Secret” on a metaphysical level (the attackers claimed they didn’t believe in God) and not liking “Daddy’s Little Girls” (the attackers claim that we shouldn’t be “badmouthing” Tyler Perry.) Huh? So now I can’t have my own thoughts? Why does my differing opinion enrage you so much? What do ya’ll think?

18 thoughts on “Freedom to Disagree

  1. I think it goes back to the basic principles of being liked. Everyone wants to be liked and because of insecurities we tend to feel that if someone doesn’t agree with us they don’t like us.

    As you know I got my feelings hurt recently and I’ve been doing some soul searching regarding. I don’t think what I said was what some thought I meant and it hurt my feelings.

    Most times though I just wonder if people understand how much power they are giving someone else when they let them upset them.

    I think you did the right thing by not saying anything…cuz I woulda hated to get a call in the middle of the night and have to roll on them fools with you.


  2. Hey girl! I wasn’t happy to see that your feelings were hurt, but I liked and respected your honesty for admitting it.

    Do you think that men go through this type of emotional reasoning?

    *lol* Yeah, I had a response typed addressing a few folk by name, then I thought about it and since you’re about to be out of town for a minute, I might not have had enough backup! 🙂

  3. Great post, TDJ! I think that the other factor is that the web allows some people to just be “extra.” So they blow-up at things/in ways that they might think twice about if it were one-on-one or face-to-face. And often listserves are the places where people tend to really let go in that regard…


  4. Very nice post. I do believe that it comes down to being liked or having at the very least some type of superficial acceptance from the majority. I’ve seen people completely shift opinions when they see that the majority doesn’t agree. Many people just can’t stand the idea of being “different”.

    I think men go through similar reasoning, just not on so much of an emotional level. I think they may be able to rationalize differently than women what they say in relation to how they react. Moreover, they may be better with the notion of agree to disagree than we are.

    In real life, we’ll issue platitudes unnecessarily just to make sure we’re always liked. For example, a coworker may come in with a terrible looking hairstyle and when she asks for opinions, we’ll say “oh, it’s cute”, etc when we really mean “please put a bag over your hair, it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen”. That’s done in an effort to minimize friction–i.e. “God forbid she think I don’t like her because I don’t think her hair is cute”

    When someone speaks a contrary opinion or whatever, some people take that as a call to arms…as if the person making the contrary statement is out to make enemies and nothing more.

  5. Hey Gwyneth! Good point. People do get bolder when they think that they can’t be confronted.

    Hey Tasha! Yes, we do let little white lies slip from our tongues too often don’t we. I’ve been making myself stop doing that. Went to see a co-workers baby two weeks ago. Um…the two next to me struggled to say, “He’s so beautiful”, I just said, “How precious! What a joy!”. *lol*

    @ Creole – And the difference in your specific case is that the young lady who disagreed/didn’t get you, was not trying to attack you. As Tasha said, there are people who see disagreement as a battle cry and a call to arms.

  6. Well…I’m in a different mood today so I’m saying BRING IT! You want a fight…I’m ya girl! ROFL!

    Men, in my opinion, don’t get down like this.


    *i’m kidding* 🙂

    Seriously though, there is a difference between a debate and an argument. Most people don’t understand that. Nowadays everything is personal. People want to fight, they want to attack. It’s nonsense. I’m all for voicing your opinion whether you agree or disagree. It’s healthy. Gives you tough skin. And us men, we only get into emotional debates when you’re talking about sports 🙂

  8. He’s right. I have seen a grown man run out a room full of people bout a game. The room got quiet and somebody said “He gon cry when he get in the car.” AND I HOWLED WITH LAUGHTER ALONG WITH EVERYONE ELSE.

    Gotta love it when a “Friday” quote can fit right on in. ROFL!

  9. I am very opinionated and have something to say about everything. However, I refuse to comment when I see some very interesting discussions of the current events listed on personal blogs. Like you, I am just amazed at how out of hand a simple debate can get. It would seem that very few people respect the rights of others to have opinions that differ from their own. I think half the time, they are responding less to what is being said than to the actual notion that someone has the gall to disagree with them in the first place. And you’re right, unfortunately it IS mostly women who take it to the next level. I guess its hormonal. LOL.

  10. @ Fresh – *lol* That’s exactly the kind of emotion I’m referring to. Yeah, I didn’t think men got down like this.

    @ Les – Well, please feel free to come here and speak your mind, as openly as you would like. I don’t have a problem with differing opinions. I like being exposed to different ideas and thought.

    You hit the nail on the head with, “I think half the time, they are responding less to what is being said than to the actual notion that someone has the gall to disagree with them in the first place.”

  11. I got a comment recently from a blog sister in regards to a popular gossip website we frequent and the comments left there.

    She simply said “I stopped goning there, the comments hurt my spirit.”

    She is so right.

    I have to step back a lot. There is absolutely no point to arguing and being mad online. Someone will always want to up the ante and disagree and folk just fall deeper in the trap and get madder and MADDER AND TYPE FASTER WITH MORE TYPOS AND CUSS WORDS!!!!


    It is the same with blogs, you gotta know which ones not to blogroll. What is the point of visiting a blog whose author offends you everytime?

    Women are more emotional than men but they blow up too. I think they come back quicker than us. Like the basketball story above..I bet ole boy was right back with his boys the next day or two unless us women who might take a month to come around.

    Yes I just blogged in your comments…LOL.

    Good post!

  12. You Ain’t Neva Lied, Gurl! This is so true. As people mature they have to realize you have to agree to disagree sometimes. You can have your opinion or even know in your heart that you’re right and someone else is wrong, but if you constantly force your opinion on others when they don’t concur, you’ll find yourself by yourself real quick. or you’ll be surrounded by people who only think like you do and life becomes so boring. Having an open mind is a rarity these days. What i don’t get is howcome Anna N Smith and these other celebs take up so much of the evening news time (and not just on Entertainment Tonight or similar shows) and people are so into this baby daddy drama about this dead white ho (not to disrespect the dead but let’s be for real) when stuff like this happens on Maury Povich all day long. But i digress. You are so right though. Good post!

  13. When I read comments where people get emotional I think they have never learned how to debate effectively. And they want something they may not get, which is for the other person to catapult and say they are right. Those things are probably not going to happen. Also, when people get emotional in a debate and start name calling is when I bow out. Attack the argument, not the person. Unfortunately, some people can not rise above a gutter level when discussing heated issues.

  14. *first thing.. *waving hey hun.. I’m back*.. second thing..

    Can you get out of my head. I don’t belong to that listserv but I have been having debates with both female and male companions and the males *I’ll regret sayign this* were more reasonable! LOL my female counterparts really thought I was crazy and had LOST my rocker.. while the men I discussed with 1) were shocked that what I said came out of a woman’s mouth and 2) after they got over their initial shock.. continued to engage me in a conversation of the minds.. NOT THE HEART.. and most women get too emotional *we are emotional creatures by nature* and allow our emotions to cloud our good judgement…and feel if you jump on the bandwagon of those “liked” then you will be liked too..

    Now I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT THE “SECRET” IS.. but I have been challenged by a friend to read the book and we’ll discuss in our book club..

    Hope to see you soon back over at my place 🙂

  15. I think people can hide behind blogs and listservs to say what they want to. Still everyone has that deep rooted thing to be liked. But still, most people are not good debaters.

  16. Wow. I used to belong to a message board and men disagree and hate each other afterward also.

    It took a long time for me to be able to disagree with people for exactly the reason the bloggers above mentioned. Even in my own home. I would just say okay, but move on and do my own thing. Inherently we all want to be liked. And to take it one step further, I didn’t want people to think I didn’t like them. But sometimes, I’d be seething inside.

    But now? LOL. You don’t even have to ask for my opinion. I’ve got one for that a$$! And I disagree w/ folks in a heartbeat. (Funny thing is, if they are dead set on their opinion, I’ll disagree even if I agree – just to make things interesting!)

    In short (after all that, LOL) I do think people should learn how to debate an issue w/o mudslinging. It gives your argument more value.

    Disagreeing is not an attack. It just means…you have your own opinion. And there is nothing wrong w/ that.

    Great post.

  17. Okay… I’m a little late to this blog but I just “discovered” you…

    I will say this… emotional responses are NOT limited to women… I had a guy challenge me to a fight over something that I disagreed with…

    *… if you ever come down here your ass is mine…* My response: “I’ll be there in Aug, if you can figure out what I look like and I can figure out what you look like, IT’S ON!!! I-D-I-O-T!!!” I know I stoke the fire a bit… but it’s sooo much fun…

    Having said all that, I think that because the internet is largely anonymous, people say things that they would not DARE say in person… For fear of a beatdown… Somehow sitting behind a computer screen emboldens those types into actions which they would not ordinarily do… * you mean I can say what I want… with no reprecussions???!!!*

    That’s just my 2 cents…

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