On grudges and the harboring thereof

As the OC often says, some battles are vicious only because the stakes are so very small:

In Vox’s case, I don’t feel he should be surprised when people he’s chosen to shake up and outrage have chosen to remain shaken and outraged, and yet from time to time, he is. Underneath that brassy exterior there is a very intelligent and thoughtful man, who once in a while comes up with an idea he really would like to see discussed soberly, calmly, and dispassionately, and on those occasions he seems genuinely taken aback to find that the people he would like to discuss his idea with are still holding a grudge over something he wrote years ago.

One of the most basic flaws in human character is the assumption that other people are essentially like us at heart. While I learned long ago that the most reliably self-defeating thing I could do was to assume that everyone was perfectly capable of understanding what I was doing or talking about, I still get caught off-guard from time to time in other areas. One of these is the concept of holding grudges, particularly intellectual ones. I’m simply not interested enough in most people to keep track of those I don’t like and don’t respect. This is why my friends are so amused when I’m accused of hating or being obsessed with someone for whom I’ve demonstrated complete contempt; as the White Buffalo once told a girl who was convinced that I had it in for her during our college days: “he doesn’t hate you, he has no idea who you are.”

In fact, the concept of disliking people simply because I disagree with them has never made sense to me, probably because my views are unusual enough that everyone, including Spacebunny, disagrees with at least a few of them. Sometimes I can win people over to seeing things somewhat my way, sometimes I can’t, but regardless of the result, it seldom affects the way I feel about them. Ideas are not character and individuals are far more than the sum of their ideas. Of course, they’re also less interesting than ideas, for the most part, but that’s neither here nor there. I suppose that the fact I don’t care what most people think on the basis of their relative retardation also makes it easier for me to separate the incredibly idiotic idea from the perfectly pleasant individual who happens to possess it.

So, it’s easy for me to forget that many people don’t think this way, and that the mere fact of disagreement, let alone criticism, to say nothing at all of open contempt for their ideas, is enough to stamp you with “THE ENEMY” for life. That’s why I got caught off-guard in the recent discussion at Mr. Stross’s blog, when the fat old women of the SFWA preferred to wax hysterical about my skeptical view of women suffrage – but NOT actually debate it, of course – rather than stick to the subject of the SFWA’s governance. I had no idea that their thick woolen granny pants were still knotted over a three-year old column on the incontrovertible fact that women prefer writing vampire sex novels and strong independent woman in space romances to hard science fiction; other than John Scalzi, Charles Stross and that hapless old hag Hayden, I couldn’t tell you who was involved in the original discussion if you paid me.

Now, it’s important not to put too much weight on the OC’s statement about my liking for rhetoric. He’s only talking about the part that’s used to push the emotional triggers of the brainless, not the core ideas. To give a recent example, look at the personal views of Steyn expressed in an article written about the Canadian human rights tribunals. If you read carefully, you’ll see that I don’t dislike Steyn at all, but my choice of the loaded words “overrated” and “overexposed” pushed the buttons that made his defenders overreact. Thank you, obedient bitches! But I fully hold to all of the controversial positions which I am defending with the occasional rhetorical provocation. Granted, the way in which I use sarcasm without the usual “WARNING: SARCASM AHEAD” signs can occasionally lead to confusion, but then, this blog is a two-way street and one has only to ask in order to receive clarification.

I should also mention that I cannot fathom why anyone who looks upon me favorably would EVER even THINK about the possibility of attacking the OC for being insufficiently enthusiastic about anything I’ve said, written or done. I expect my friends to freely disagree with me; their opinions and criticisms are the only ones I take seriously. Praise is nice, but honest, intelligent and constructive criticism is to be treasured.