Opinions are like fingerprints. Everyone has at least one, and they tend to be unique. They can be popular, unpopular, or controversial. That I don't care about.
But if there is one thing that royally gets my goat is this perception that he or she is entitled to his opinion, especially when this said person is saying something poorly informed or ignorant (i.e., homophobia) as a means of being free from persecution. To echo the quote from my signature:
“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” - Harlan Ellison
Just because you express an opinion does NOT give you the freedom of criticism. It does NOT give you the freedom of being persecuted. It does NOT give you the freedom of people calling your logic a bunch of garbage.
I'm a debater by heart, and have been since I first published this essay more than three and a half years now. When I see someone giving an opinion, I follow this guideline (copied-and-pasted from my rebuttal to a homophobic brony's white knight):
- Does the opinion have logical, common sense reasons behind it?
- Can you back up your opinion with evidence from reliable sources?
- Is the opinion very clearly organized?
- Does the opinion NOT contain blind prejudice, and does the opinion not use some kind of element like an excuse to mask common sense?
- Is the opinion, after gathering all of the evidence, based on a logical, clear conclusion?
If you follow this guideline completely, then chances are you have a GOOD — or should I say well-informed — opinion. And this is what I respect: an opinion backed up by a logical argument. If you don't, then chances are you have a BAD opinion.
Then there is this fallacy of how people blindly believe their opinions shouldn't be challenged. If you're going to express your opinion, regardless of whether it's popular or not, expect people like myself to see it backed up. If you don't (or if you back it up poorly), then regardless of whether they agree or disagree with you, you're open to getting your opinion challenged and criticized. Respect of an opinion is a privilege only. Display ignorance or stupidity in your opinion, and my respect of your opinion is quickly LOST. In the U.S., your opinion doesn't force the government from throwing you in jail, but it doesn't guarantee you freedom from public persecution.
To put it bluntly, not all opinions are equal.
And that's the code I follow. Respecting people's opinions blindly insults my intelligence. Give me an opinion followed by a good argument, and I'll respect your opinion. But give me poor logic to back up your opinion, then I won't respect your opinion.
Of course, depending on the subject and whether it follows the topic/forum rules or not, I may or may not challenge or critique it openly.