Monday, 26 May 2014

A Lie Is Not An Opinion

Have you noticed that opinions and facts have become somewhat interchangeable in the world of the internet? No one can be wrong anymore because everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

I disagree.

Vehemently.

A good car salesman can make you believe lies. This is why most people I know, when buying a car, will take along a friend who actually knows about cars to give them an alternative opinion. They want an expert in their corner. Someone who has a good deal of knowledge on the topic and can be relied upon to give a fair assessment.


Car salesmen make money by having people notice the parts of the cars they think will help sell the car to the person. I work in sales, and I do this all day. It's called features and benefits people - features and benefits.

If you want to sell me a car, here's what you want to do: point out the adjustable cup holders, the really nice leather interior seats and the low mileage. That's what I want to know about and that's what will sell me the car. But, if you want to sell me the car and I have my Pa with me, leather interior seats aren't going to cut it. You now have to go through the log book with my Pa, he's going to ask you how many owners the car has had, what kind of warranty the car comes with, he will want to test drive it a few times and listen to the engine, and oh, he won't agree with the price you are asking either.

Selling me a car just got a lot harder.

I call this the "rigorously tested" phase of the exercise.

After testing the facts with your chosen objective expert, you get to the part where you work out whether the car salesman's opinion that "This is a good car" is a lie or not. If Pa tells me the car is worth buying, I am going to think well of the salesman's opinion because I have done my research and now know that the salesman isn't the only one who thinks this is a good car. However, if Pa gives me a look that means "Don't touch it with a barge pole" I am not going to be very trusting of the salesman any more because he has not told me everything I needed to know. His opinion is a lie.

I'll get to the part where I explain why lies are not opinions either - very shortly.

Let's recap.

An opinion is someone's view on a topic.

I say your car is ugly, you say your car is beautiful, but we are both in agreement that it's the same car we are talking about.

Beautiful to someone I'm sure


You say this is a good car, I say this is a bad car and then we fight (read negotiate in business speak) about why, based on the information we both have.

The difference here is that I assume you know what I mean when I say I want a good car. I want one that won't break down, isn't overpriced, and also has cool cup holders. If I find out that you have covered up or mislead me to make me believe that the car is good when you know that it is actually bad, then you are no longer holding an opinion, you are telling a lie.

And a lie is a lie, not an opinion.

The reason I felt the need to explain this so plainly is because you need to understand something.

The article that I read after work today entitled:
Elliot Rodger, And The Dark Heart Of Men’s Rights Activism

made me rage inside. I couldn't quite put my finger on why I was so angry, but finally as I was driving home it struck me: our society had allowed a falacy, a lie, a twisted and warped view that is not consistent with reality to be legitimized as an opinion.

In case you don't have a social media connection, the worldwide Twitter reaction to the hate fuelled Santa Barbara killings in the US on Sunday is trending right now, and it's called #yesallwomen. If you want to keep reading, and you don't know what I'm talking about, please read the article above first, because this shit is important.

Let me make this clear.

Misogyny is indefensible. 
Allowing people to hold misogynistic viewpoints as valid opinions is also indefensible. 

Saying "This is a good car" when it obviously isn't, is a lie. I might get killed if I buy that car.
Similarly, saying "That guy had valid opinions" when he obviously didn't, is a lie. He killed seven people.

If you are a woman, you can stop reading now. I'm sure you get it. 


If you are a man, you need to think about the following very carefully.

If you aren't cringing, there is something wrong

The lie misogynists tell themselves, that women do not deserve the same respect as men, is not an opinion.

It is a lie.

Let's recap.

You say this is a good car "I do respect you, we are only making fun" and I say this is a bad car "This is not respect, it's not funny" and then we fight about why, based on the information we both have.

The difference here is that I assume you know what I mean when I say I want a good car respect. I want a car that won't break down respect in the office regardless of what I wear, a car that isn't over priced I want to sleep with whoever I want without being called a slut, and I also want cool cupholders to play sport and have thousands of people cheer me on regardless of my gender. If I find out that you have covered up or mislead me to make me believe that the car is good you do give women the same amount of respect as men, when you know that it is actually bad not the same, then you are no longer holding an opinion, you are telling a lie.

Not so funny, is it?

When you make it ok for your mates to talk about me like a piece of meat by laughing, when you only respect what I say because I am Mark's sister, when you use "Your Mum" jokes to insult another male, think about what you are doing.

Making it acceptable for people around you to do and say these things makes it harder for me to defend you when you say you aren't a misogynist. 

And I, for one, don't like being a liar.



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