Saturday, November 04, 2006

Chicken Feet

Found this from an old email thread about respecting different viewpoints. The issue in question was same-sex unions, but the thing I was trying to say here (however awkwardly) is applicable to a lot of issues (the curriculum revision comes to mind).

Hi. My name is Mel, and I like eating chicken feet.

Some people think chicken feet are absolutely disgusting. All right, they probably shouldn't be able to prevent me from having my tasty snack. However, do I have the right to say that they can't disagree with the goodness of me eating chicken feet? It's not very nice of them to plaster the dining hall with "CHICKEN FEET EATERS ARE EVIL" and nag me about how my chicken-eating habits will damn me to eternal high cholesterol.

As a considerate and respectful person, it would also not be very mature or nice of me to flaunt eating chicken feet in front of them and call them names ("Chicken feet haters! You're so prejudiced against chicken feet!"). I know it bothers them, and I can't force them to change the fact that they're bothered about it. They know I like chicken feet, and they can't force me to change the fact that I like chicken feet. Well, we can try, but it's frustrating and counterproductive effort to drill your beliefs into someone else's head. If I want them to respect my views on chicken feet, I must show respect for theirs. And not just their right not to eat chicken feet - I need to respect their right to not like that I eat chicken feet. Subtle yet crucial difference.


1 comment:

Tim Smith said...

I need to respect their right to not like that I eat chicken feet.
This makes me nervous for two reasons.
1. But what does that mean in practice? If I start dating men and go hang out with my boyfriend in Needham Center, am I going to make people uncomfortable? Or maybe it means no kissing in public? If I'm reading this right (and I suspect that I'm not) that would amount to creating a double standard for straight couples and LGBT couples and drive the latter underground. Are you just trying to talk about displays intended to offend? I don't think those are so common.
Are you talking about the idea of gay pride?

2. Many people view their sexual orientation as a key part of their identity. Assume again that I start dating men and find that it's what makes me happiest. How can I accept that other people despise me for living in existential good faith & being true to myself? Why should I accept that they have a right to think that an important part of who I am is flawed or ugly? It seems like a tremendously difficult and painful thing to be confronted with. I just think it's a little more personal than the chicken feet analogy suggests.