From Woody Allen’s brilliant 1977 Picture of the Year Annie Hall…
Allison: No, that was wonderful. I love being reduced to a cultural stereotype.
Alvy: Right, I’m a bigot, I know, but for the left.
An unassailable life truth is that we are all very much married to our world views, and those marriages are hard to break up. Even in the face of facts, or just potential facts, that contradict the intellectual world we build, we hesitate, or stop entirely.
I witnessed this recently when I tweeted links to two videos about police-involved shootings.
Twitter mined the titles of the videos, not me, but based on that, my most liberal friends presumed that I had stated, “Police don’t shoot people for being black.” I also linked to the same vlogger’s, “Another person lying about the police on the internet.”
I hoped my friends, especially my liberal friends, would watch the whole video and render an opinion or two to shed some light on this issue. Sadly, it was not to be.
One friend said, “Are you saying, ‘Police don’t shoot people for being black’?” She added that she didn’t “have time” to watch the videos. In fact, I had only posted a link, and said nothing about the nature of police shootings.
Another told me he’d watched about a minute of the video and stopped. “I’ve seen enough,” he said. He also accused me of using a rhetorical tactic called JAQing Off. I was not.
This is the kind of dismissal is what I’ve come to expect from pulpit, not from my supposedly enlightened, open minded friends.
My opinion of these videos is contextual: they are made by a vlogger calling himself Donut Operator, and his perspective is very practical and very law-enforcement oriented. I certainly don’t agree with everything he says, but I can begin to form an opinion based on the growing number of videos he published. If you refuse to watch any of them, your opinion of him = 0.
Along those same lines, I have a friend, whose opinions I value, who once declined to listen to a song I recommended because the lyrics stated a different religious point of view than his own. The song didn’t tell him to leave his religion or even that his religion was wrong, but simply stated another set of beliefs. But this friend of mine shoved his fingers in his ears, almost literally.
The deepest, darkest, most frustrating aspect of these disconcerting dialog is that it means that we all live in fear, in darkness, in slavery. Is there anyone out there who actually watches debates with an open mind, listens to podcasts with an open mind, reads news article to the end with an open mind? Or are all our minds made up?