While in a discussion about eliminating the Electoral College on social media, one woman had this to say to me:
I don’t think Americans need to be protected from other Americans when it comes to voting. Majority is the majority in so many developed nations. I understand the construct and intended function of our representatives and the electoral college and our federal presidential republic and whatnot (and don’t need it to be mansplained). I don’t disagree because I’m ignorant. I disagree because I disagree. Agreeing to disagree is fine.
Why is it that any time you get in a discussion with a liberal, they feel the need to waive victimhood in order to gain an upper hand in the discussion? Just because I am a man, any disagreement is ‘mansplaining’?
I strongly disagree with her position that Americans don’t need to be protected from other Americans when it comes to voting. Yes, Americans do need to be protected from other Americans when it comes to voting. Look at any current hot button issue and ask yourself how easy it would be to be on the losing side of a vote on that issue, and how happy you are that we have protections in place to prevent the tyranny of that majority: Gay marriage, abortion, gun rights, segregation, etc. Each of those are issues that a majority can and has used its electoral power to force their will upon others, rights be damned.
As far as “Agree to disagree,” let me restate my issue with that:
I refuse to “agree to disagree.” That is stupid. Suppose I came out and said that men should be able to freely rape women, or we should be able to own slaves. Would she still want to “agree to disagree?” When someone says that to me, it comes across as some smarmy, superior attitude that basically says “I am smarter than you, and I am your better, but since you, with your obviously inferior intellect, cannot see reason and agree with me, I will simply smile at you, and tell you that you have a right to your opinion, you simpleton.”
I won’t “agree to disagree” in this conversation or in others, because “agree to disagree” is an incredibly lazy tactic. It ranks up there with “everyone is entitled to their own opinion” among the pantheon of dishonest and self-defeating statements made in lieu of actual argument. I cannot heap enough contempt on the idea of “agreeing to disagree.”
The argument could be useful, I suppose, if it meant no more than what it says – mutual recognition of a disagreement. Some arguments are intractable – issues of personal taste or the subjective importance of certain values cannot be resolved empirically. In an argument like that, once both sides have expressed themselves as clearly as possible, if there is still no agreement then there is nothing left to do but acknowledge there is a disagreement, and leave it at that.
That is not, however, the sense in which I most often hear the phrase “agree to disagree” used. What is usually meant is “we’re both equally right, both equally wrong.” It is an arch-liberal dodge, invoking the most ludicrous type of relativistic equivocation. If I am holding a flamethrower and you are holding a lit match, it is true that we can both start fires, but pretending that we can just “agree to disagree” about which is better suited to the task of lighting a candle is nonsense.
Two positions, one demonstrably true and the other based on nothing more than feelings, do not share the same level of validity. If we can agree on some basic definitions like “true” and “evidence”, and if we can agree that it is important to have true beliefs rather than false ones, then we can and should examine different ideas. While it might be nice to pretend that this kind of dispute is simply a difference of opinion, it most certainly is not. I refuse to pretend that a poorly-argued position, based on straw men refutations of legitimate questions, holds sufficient validity to be granted any more respect than belief in aliens or the Loch Ness monster.
When a person claims that they wish to “agree to disagree” is really saying is, “I want you to agree that my position has just as much merit as yours”, and I am certainly not interested in engaging in masquerading a clear true/false dichotomy as a simple difference of perspective. Truth is not established easily, and that’s a good thing. In a universe where an infinite number of explanations for a given phenomenon are conceivable, we must scrutinize and test to see which ideas are worth keeping and which can be discarded safely. “Agreeing to disagree” is simply asking to lump the good ideas in with the fanciful or debunked ones in some misguided sense of fairness.
Some things are simply so repugnant, and so against freedom and decency that I cannot agree to disagree. The point here is that we live in society that claims to value freedom. There are always those who would abuse those freedoms and hurt others.