Assumptions; the art of disarming an opposing view
Attempts to discredit opposing viewpoints
We’ve all heard the little quip about making assumptions. “To assume makes an ass of you and me.”
I have always had a problem with making assumptions. I also dislike the idea that, if one disagrees with another’s point of view, one party resorts to name calling, labeling and “accusing,“ claiming that holding certain opinions are (assumed) negative, derogatory, unpopular and not politically correct. Immediately, one is expected to defend oneself thus altering the course of the conversation from an objective one to a personal one. The idea is to disarm the differing opinion by using ridicule designed to cause the ridiculed to argue back; "I’m not _______.” (fill in the space). This tactic is based on the assumption that certain “labels” or identities are, obviously, unacceptable and should be (it's assumed) denied; that the speaker will quickly jump to a defensive mode, claiming "not" to be what the accuser alleges.
This attempt to discredit is a popular one among those who do not wish to entertain viewpoints which oppose their own. It is also used as a tool to embarrass or reduce the validity of the speaker and place the opponent in the position of defending themselves rather than their point of view.
The quickest way to disarm this is to avoid the expected response. If you are “accused” of being conservative, liberal, nativist, “bleeding heart,” xenophobic or idealistic, simply ignore the jab and continue on with the discussion.
Nothing annoys the accuser more than a lack of reaction to their attempts at destroying the legitimacy of their (apparent) antagonist.
Many insightful, creative and stimulating ideas have been cast to the wayside because of the assumption that the holder of these ideas is, somehow, intrinsically errant in their position. The argument turns to an offensive/defensive sparring and the original content is lost. One is supposed to, forced to (if they allow it) abandon his belief and, instead, defend himself.
Those who participate in this type of censoring are seriously lacking in the art of give and take. Instead, they hide behind a series of labels which they thrust upon anyone who holds a standard which questions their own.
Beware of those who cast aspersions rather than openly explore new and, sometimes, “upsetting” concepts. Keep your wits about you and carry on.