Polite company.

I absolutely agree with the commonly held wisdom that you shouldn’t discuss politics or religion with someone or a group of people you don’t know very well.  Both are incredibly divisive, loaded topics, and even the most innocuous comment could wind up offending someone.  If you know the person or people you’re talking to, and they know you, then you’re all on the same page as far as how each of you feels about this or that, so having a conversation about either of those subjects won’t be a potential field littered with landmines.  I also tend to believe that some people use those two topics as cudgels to bash over others heads and total strangers often bear the brunt of it, the idea being you wouldn’t treat your friends and acquaintances that way.  Just look at the Internet.  Go into the comments section on any website under an article about either of those two topics.  People treat each other horribly.  No one knows the other people they’re responding to, but it’s all insults, threats, and hate speech.  If that’s how they treat someone they don’t know whose face they can’t see, how do you think they’d treat someone they don’t know who was standing right in front of them?

I’m very opinionated when it comes to politics in particular, and when I’m out with friends, and there might be one or two people at the table that I’m not acquainted with, I keep my mouth shut and stick to sports, TV, or the weather.  The reason being, I don’t want to make everyone else uncomfortable by finding myself arguing with a Republican over whether the Affordable Care Act is President Obama’s way of turning the US into a socialist state or not.  For one, it isn’t, in case anyone was curious and two, that’s not conversation you have over dinner in public anyway.

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3 comments

  1. dancinglemur · April 21, 2015

    Good points, to be sure, but look at the converse. If those of us who are opinionated can’t discuss politics with anyone for fear of giving offence, how will we ever refine our views? I totally agree, by the way, that certain topics are “incredibly divisive,” and I face a constant struggle myself as to who to talk to about politics. Too often, I just talk to other people who agree with me, and the discussion simply turns into a backslapping party, with no real substance. I want to be challenged in my opinions, and the best way to do that is read blogs or news articles (because then I don’t run the risk of alienating friends). Unfortunately, I often get sucked into a nasty flame war, and I don’t know why. I have a feeling that it is because the vast majority of people who post anonymous comments agree with the article, so if I come in with a dissenting opinion, the pack mentality takes hold and I’m ripped apart. Ah, well. Maybe there isn’t a good way to discuss politics with other people unless one is on a debate team. I hope there is, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beth · April 21, 2015

      I understand your concern re: the backslapping party. My parents are fairly conservative, though thankfully not off-the-rails, so conversations we have about what might be going on in the news will generally fall to one side or the other, and that’s fine, they don’t expect me to agree with them and I don’t expect them to agree with me.

      That said, the majority of my friends are all liberals like I am, not because I want to live in an echo chamber where only my views, thoughts, and opinions are parroted back to me, but because so many things it seems the GOP hold near and dear are just so disgusting and abhorrent to me, I don’t want to listen to someone like that espouse their views, so I avoid people like that altogether. Is that right? In the interest in refining my own worldview and challenging myself no, but do you really want to have your worldview challenged by someone who thinks the Earth is 6,000 years old and gays are responsible for earthquakes and that Obama is a secret Muslim terrorist?

      Liked by 1 person

      • dancinglemur · April 21, 2015

        Makes sense. I pretty much do the same. I can’t think of a single really close friend that has opposite political views as me. I lean generally conservative, but I don’t believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old, gays are responsible for earthquakes, or Obama is a secret Muslim terrorist. I try to stay away from conspiracy theories and wacko stuff like that. Glenn Beck can do that all himself without me helping.

        Liked by 1 person

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