In the age of globalization, we are no longer confined to the sole communication of those around us, we communicate with others across the world. Those from different religions, ethnicities, upbringing, and beliefs; and now, more then ever, the resounding cry of citizens of the world has been “well that’s just my opinion”.
What better way to deescalate an argument then to agree to disagree, “This is my opinion, and that is yours, and we’ll just agree to disagree on this topic.”. However, in today’s day, we have lost the true meaning of what an opinion really is.
An opinion is a belief, it’s a judgment call you make about something, a statement that need not be steeped in facts or concrete evidence. For example, ice cream is the best dessert in the world, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. My opinion on ice cream is not a fact, although I would like to believe it is, and it’s not steeped in evidence or knowledge; it is simply my opinion.
Where we lose our way in this opinion fiasco is when we neglect to understand that if your opinion comes to the detriment of another group, that is when it stops being an opinion; or rather, that is when you stop being entitled to your opinion.
Let’s take the oh-so-hot topic of religion as an example. It’s perfectly fine to say you don’t believe in Islam, it’s an entirely different thing to say that all Muslim’s should be banned from the country.
Opinion: I do not believe in Islam.
Not an Opinion: I believe all Muslims should be banned from the country.
See the difference? One, you are entitled to state, the other you are not, because when your opinion serves as discrimination towards another group it’s not an opinion, it’s hate-speech.
You may have heard the quote from Harlan Ellison, “You are not entitled to your opinion. You’re entitled to your informed opinion.”, and it truly could not be more relevant in today’s era. In an age of instant access to more information then you could ever imagine, discrimination is not an opinion, it’s ignorance, and ignorance is something that you are not entitled to.