Social Question

Val123's avatar

Have you noticed that when someone makes a comment on an issue that they've had no experience with, people who are activists on said issue get upset over your "ignorance"?

Asked by Val123 (12668points) June 9th, 2010

I don’t understand why some people have to go on the attack when you ask a question or express an opinion that isn’t exactly in line with what an activist wants to see. Why can’t they see it as a chance to teach you instead? If you’ve come right out and viciously attacked, say, gay people, or transsexuals, or people with depression or mental illness, then you deserve to be slapped. But so often even a mild comment or questions will get you slapped and told “YOU NEED TO LEARN ABOUT THIS BEFORE YOU TALK!” Well, why not start the learning process right then and there? Further, it does nothing for the activist’s cause when they go on the attack.

Not everyone can be an expert in understanding everything in the world.

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36 Answers

bob_'s avatar


Val123's avatar


lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I have noticed that people get P/O’d about everything.For some,it’s a job ;)

marinelife's avatar

It depends on the comment. If you know that you know nothing about a subject (or not enough to comment on it) why not own that and ask rather than make a comment?

Trillian's avatar

Good point @Val123. I’ve been only on the fringes of the receiving end of this a couple times, although I’ve felt that some comments may have been directed at me.
I find that people like this are in the same category as Fundamentalist Christians. The issues are different but the lack of tolerance is the same and the expectation that everyone jump on the band wagon and shout with the same fervor is of a piece with the FC’s.
The feel superior to FC’s because their views are so much more “enlightened”, but in my opinion, their views are generally just as narrow and unforgiving of any deviation from their own agenda.

DominicX's avatar

I agree completely. Although it isn’t just “activists”, it can be anybody. I consider myself an “activist” for gay rights. I have come across people who say stuff like “is being gay a choice?” and people will jump on them for being an “idiot”. I’d rather take it as an opportunity to educate them. Ignorant doesn’t mean “stupid”, it just means “lacking knowledge”. Most people want to have more knowledge.

tinyfaery's avatar

So speaking out of ignorance is acceptable?

I agree that some people (not just activists) go too far, but then most people feel no need to educate themselves about a topic and instead choose to speak out of their ignorance, position of privilege and fear. So who is worse?

I choose to learn about people who I seemingly do not understand so I am less likely to make mistakes that can do serious damage to those in a less-privileged position

perspicacious's avatar

It’s not always upset over the poster’s ignorance, it’s the stupidity of the intended intelligent question.

dpworkin's avatar

On a site specifically designed for people with specialized knowledge to provide meaningful answers ignorance can be annoying, but stupidity is unforgivable.

Val123's avatar

These are some great, great answers.You guys are saying so very succinctly exactly what I was trying to say. A closed mind is a closed mind, no matter what clothes you put on it.

@dpworkin Well, I wasn’t thinking of a “specialized” site….

CMaz's avatar

Now you know why there will be no world peace.

Val123's avatar

@ChazMaz Yes, there will be. You just don’t know!

CMaz's avatar

Not as long as someone makes a comment on an issue that they’ve had no experience with, people who are activists on said issue get upset over your “ignorance. :-)

perspicacious's avatar

@Val123 It’s getting worse. What’s with the closed mind comment.

wilma's avatar

Comments? or questions?
I have wanted to ask some questions here about some things that I wouldn’t necessarily ask to someone that I know or at least not in any kind of social situation.
I would really like to learn from people who know, and have experience but, I’m kind of afraid of being attacked for asking the question.
Like I’m supposed to already be enlightened about the subject.
If I knew about it I wouldn’t feel the need to ask. If I already have my mind made up and closed about the subject, then I wouldn’t want to ask. If I didn’t care I wouldn’t ask, and if those who are enlightened about the subject would answer me politely and with respect then I would then have a better understanding.

Cruiser's avatar

I see it that if someone gets upset over someone taking a stab at a comment as the ignorant one. This is a Q&A site and I hang here to learn something new or at the very least get another perspective on a subject. But it is especially hard to watch someone get eviscerated for an innocent comment they made even if they were way out of their league.

SmashTheState's avatar

I’m an activist. I’ve spent 20 years as an activist, getting teargassed, peppersprayed, beaten with batons, trampled by horses, shot with pepperballs, spied upon, arrested, de-arrested, imprisoned, and occasionally maligned by the corporate media. I have countless thousands of hours of experience organizing and advocating, and nearly as much spent reading legal texts and networking with civil rights lawyers. In short, I have paid a dear price to become a knowledgable expert in my field.

Then some meathead comes along with a personal opinion based on 15 minutes of Bill O’Reilly talking points and something he misread a year ago in the New York Times, and decides that this qualifies him to tell me I’m full of shit and he knows better.

And you wonder why “activists” get angry at that?

tranquilsea's avatar

@Cruiser GA.

Questions and comments come in many flavours. Some people genuinely do want to know. Some talk to get things riled up. Some make the mistake of believing that because they know a little that qualifies them from having an opinion on a lot.

As with most things on the Internet: I give what I can, take what I can and then ignore the rest. I can pick out the willfully ignorant fairly easily. I ignore them. Same goes for the people who just like to inflame. But innocent questions/comments deserve patience and information. If I have the time I will give both.

dpworkin's avatar

@tranquilsea I like the phrase “willfully ignorant” almost as much as I like “aggressive stupidity”.

Val123's avatar

@SmashTheState Please note that in the detail I specifically meant mild comments or questions. Blatant insulting, such as what you endured, doesn’t count. Telling you you’re full of shit doesn’t count. You have a right to be angry about something like that.
What are you an activist for?

@perspicacious I didn’t quite understand your question “What’s with the closed mind comment.”

tranquilsea's avatar

@dpworkin Those are the type of people I steer clear from because it really doesn’t matter what you say they will not even consider it as they are very entrenched in their own beliefs. If confronted by one and I can’t escape I usually ask a lot questions that I hope will cause them to re-evaluate their stance, but I don’t hold my breath.

HungryGuy's avatar

I think some people just get their rocks off by being “offended” at every opportunity…

Merriment's avatar

@HungryGuy:: gasp:: Well, I never! except that one time at band camp:)

SmashTheState's avatar

@Val123 I’m not referring to any specific incident—although I could, since I’ve had the same experience more times than I can count. I’m a homelessness advocate and activist. I have also been homeless myself. I have also worked for the social services department. I have also worked as a shelter worker for two different homeless shelters. I am the spokesperson for a controversial organization comprised of street-affected people fighting for our civil liberties both inside and outside of court. My knowledge of every side of the issue of homelessness is intimate.

If I am asked (as I am frequently by the media) what the answer is to homelessness, my response is, “It’s complicated.” Then I start to explain that “homeless people” are not a single class of people, and that there are hundreds of reasons why these people are on the street, each of whom requires a slightly different approach to untangle the solutions from the problems. I also then try to explain that some people can’t deal with structured environments and are on the street by choice, and that we need to find ways of accomodating such people. By the time I reach this point, the reporter’s eyes have glazed over and they end up running sound bites from some liberal talking head saying that we need to throw bucketloads of money at everything and it’ll go away, or, worse, some conservative talking head saying that we need to start throwing people in jail. Because they make a better sound bite than “It’s complicated.”

So you can imagine how frustrated I am when I come to some Q/A site and see swarms of computer nerds and assburgers waxing polemical on homelessness and poverty issues, thinking that a couple of episodes of Law & Order or Hannity & Colmes qualifies them to pontificate on a subject which has taken me a lifetime to understand.

Talking head television has convinced people that they’re experts on every subject just because they happen to possess an opinion.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I don’t see any point in attacking the ignorant. I just state the facts or my experience and move on. I also try to stay out of areas that I have little or no knowledge or experience in.

Trillian's avatar

@SmashTheState Your statement about jail caught my attention. I have a tiny amount of personal knowledge of homelessness through my ex. He became homeless after I left him due to his use of a pretty vile drug. I also have a small amount of knowledge about the penal system due to him going to jail a couple times and some research of my own that he has sparked.
I agree that throwing money at homeless people will not fix anything, just as I believe that locking criminals up for a period of time will prevent them from exhibiting criminal behavior when they are released. I don’t ever see myself as radical or passionate about it as you seem to be, but I’d be interested in knowing your specific take on these two interrelated issues. If you wouldn’t mind.
If it seems like it might derail this thread, you could PM me. Again, if you are willing to expound for me. These issues have impacted me on a personal level, and my research continues. I welcome all angles and informed points of view.

germanmannn's avatar

i get mad at the people that get mad at the people who get mad can you feel me yo ?

Trillian's avatar

I was lookin’ back so see if you were lookin’ back to see if I was lookin’ back to see if you were lookin’ back at me. You were cute as you could be, standin’ lookin’ back at me, and it was plain to see that I’d enjoy your company!

Val123's avatar

@Trillian…This is one of my threads! My threads are de-railed proof! They can not be derailed. May change stations and destinations, but they’ll can’t jump the track! (This train can even go sideways!!)

@SmashTheState Well, thank you for your input. Although I have to say that every post you’ve made here has been automatically on the defensive. You’ve targeted different groups of people and called them bad names. It’s like you’re mad before you even get started! I can imagine that the reactions to that could bring on additional grief.

Trillian's avatar

@Val123 Thank you sugar. I knew that he was not the OP, I just meant that if he had a really long answer….you know. I don’t want to derail de tredd!

Val123's avatar

:)) Long-ass answers are so tiring. Unless they’re mine, of course. :))

SmashTheState's avatar

@Val123 You try living in a culture which, from the instant you wake until the instant you fall asleep, informs you from every conceivable medium, from every mouth, loud and clear, that everything you stand for, believe in, and fight for is wrong, stupid, in error, useless, idiotic, moronic, evil, bad, meaningless, hopeless, perverted, ungodly, unmanly, unwholesome, unwanted, illegal, unethical, and immoral. See if that might make you defensive.

Val123's avatar

Well, your attitude is putting me on the defensive and I haven’t even done or said anything! I can’t imagine that 100% of everyone in the world would view your fight for the homeless as all of that! Surely there is at least one person who respects you for what you’re doing!

germanmannn's avatar

Mental wounds not healing
Who and what’s to blame
I’m going off the rails on a crazy train !

Val123's avatar


Dutchess_III's avatar

Giggle! I just gave myself a GQ! Don’t tell the mods!

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