Hmm, this post might be less eloquent than I intended - I accidentally my whole brain a minute ago following a link it turns out I shouldn't have.|
*comes back to top to edit* Okay, this is definitely not the brilliant post I was planning to write where I put forward my ideas in a striking and coherent manner. My brain is now all messy and I'm pretty much thinking aloud. (For the definition of "aloud" that means "silently, in text".) I may try to write the other post later.
Anyway. On being "unreasonable".
In the wake of Elizabeth Moon being an amazingly bad person, Jim C. Hines posted some thinky thoughts about his reaction to being complimented for how "reasonable" his response to her was. (Avoid comments if you're feeling rage-prone today.)
Read the whole thing, but this bit is probably the most important part for what I'm thinking about right now:
There’s also the dynamic of telling victims of prejudice they must be this reasonable before we’ll listen. Putting the onus not on those who committed the offense, but on the victims, and simultaneously creating a movable bar which can be used as an excuse to stop listening.
And we shouldn’t skip the irony of protesting that “those people” are too angry and insulting, while simultaneously telling those “poo-hurling monkeys” and “PC Nazis” to “stuff it where the sun don’t shine.”
Finally, the question of “How can they expect reasoned discourse if they’re so angry/belligerent/etc.?” misses the point that maybe “they” aren’t interested in discussing things with you right now.
My therapist and I have a somewhat ongoing
argument discussion about the nature of emotions. I have a tendency to feel like my emotions are "wrong" if they're "unreasonable" and/or "irrational". My therapist's counter-claim is that all emotions are valid, and that emotions are inherently irrational.
Emotions can also be over-reaction, but there's going to be an underlying reason for that - the emotion is still valid. But never rational. But that's okay.
As you can see, my ability to express the concepts involved in this argument is limited, as is the capacity of the English language to express them, I suspect.
My therapist is awesome, by the way, but the special kind of awesome that occasionally results in conversations that go like this:
Me: "I don't like you. You suck. I never want to talk to you again."
Him: *smirk* "So I'm right then."
Me: *sighs* "Yes, but, no, just - gah!"
The thing being that I want to prove him wrong - there's still the part of me that believes that emotions can and should be subject to reason and logic and at all times a sense of the appropriate, even though I secretly suspect that he's right and none of that is true.
We've also talked about how when you lose it completely, when you hit the point of effectively throwing a tantrum, you invalidate yourself. No-one will take you seriously at that point.
However, there's quite a spectrum of expressing anger before then, and it's disingenuous to treat people as if they're pitching a screaming fit when they're expressing highly justifiable anger.
As pretty much everyone likely to read this is well aware, "reasonable" is code for the tone argument.
It amounts to:
"I don't want to think about the content of what you said, because if I do, I have to admit I am wrong, so I will instead attack the way you said it."
Except it also includes:
"You acting like you're angry with me implies that you would be justified in being angry with me, which means that I did something wrong, and I'll feel bad if that's true, so I'm going to claim that your anger is inappropriate, because then I don't have to feel bad because it means I wasn't the one who did the bad thing, YOU did when you got all angry."
Which is a partially false syllogism to begin with, but...
Yes, anger is irrational, because it's rarely the best way to communicate.
People aren't rational. Anger can be justified.
If someone's acting angry, think about why. If their anger seems disproportionate, think about why - what buildup of provocation are you adding to, what past pattern are you matching?
Asking people to be "reasonable" about the fact that you hurt them is ridiculous. It doesn't matter if you intended to hurt them or not, nothing at all matters except that you hurt them, and so they're upset that you did that, and at that point complaining because they got snippy about it makes you a bad person.
Because people feel the way they feel, and if you discount their feelings because they don't suit you... you just suck.
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