I confess: I don't understand the other side

In his Pit thread, Starving Artist wrote

I’ve heard a similar sentiment from (I believe) Sam Stone, along the lines of “conservatives understand leftists, they just don’t agree with them, while leftists do not understand conservatives”.

Well, this leftist must confess that he sees truth in the above. I don’t understand conservatives. I don’t understand why they want to force births of unwanted children. I don’t understand why they want to use crime-prevention methods that don’t prevent crime. I don’t understand why they want to ban marriages between two consenting adults just because they’re from the same half of the population as regards to a certain chromosome. I honestly don’t, and if that makes me a narrowminded asshole, then so be it.

There’s one part of your problem right there: you’re conflating them into one amorphous lump. Guess what? They’re people too. Some of them think those things; others don’t. (BTW I don’t know what you’re talking about on the crime one but I agree about the other two). They have the right to hold their opinions, just as you have a right to hold yours. You need to start by respecting that right, and by and large, the impression I have is that the Republicans seem to be a lot better at respecting that right than the Democrats.

It’s the same in the U.K. All too often with left-wingers, if you’re not one of Us, you’re one of Them and beneath contempt. The same is true of the hard-right, of course; but on the left, I see the attitude not just on the hard left but also the soft left.

I have never said I oppose freedom of thought or speech. They’re fully entitled to hold those opinions. What I do say is that I do not understand them.

As for conflating them into a lump, I’m talking about conservative opinions here, and mainly social conservatism at that. I don’t understand the people holding those opinions. If someone doesn’t hold those opinions, they’re not in the set of people I’m talking about, so no problem.

As for the whole Republican/Democrat deal I’m not American and from over here they both look rightist.

Hmmm… I’ve really just echoed Starving Artist there.

Speaking as a fellow outsider -

Because they believe that abortion constitutes murder.

Because they believe that those methods DO prevent crime, and furthermore, they believe that the methods proposed by the left don’t

Because that’s just weird.

I don’t necessarily agree with the above (although I’m on the fence about crime); I do, however, understand it pretty well. In fact, now that I think of it, there are very few political beliefs I can’t understand. Libertarians? Communists? Hippies? Anarchists? Hamas? Yeah, I see where they’re coming from. If I didn’t understand the basis of their beliefs, how could I counter them?

Many on the left only play lip service to that. Free speech? Only if it’s the sort of free speech we like. Personally, I want my bigots and racists out in the open where the comedians can lampoon them.

Yes, but you (the generic you) need to show your respect of that entitlement. Just look in the Pit to see how many do not.

And the impression I get is the exact opposite. It’s the right that wants to force themselves into everyone’s bedroom, terrorize people into not having abortions, beat or kill gays and forbid them marriage, beat up Jews on Christmas for being ‘Christ killers’, ram prayer down everyone’s throat, and on and on. The Right just think of themselves as being oppressed when they aren’t allowed to harass, oppress or kill those they don’t like.

I’d say I can understand many conservative viewpoints, though I can’t promise i’ll understand the person - not knowing where they’re coming from tends to cripple you if you’re debating. I think there’s an overlooked problem here that tends to be considerably worse; assuming you understand another’s viewpoint when in fact you don’t, and ignoring evidence to the contrary.

I’d also tend to disagree with Quartz’s impression of Republicans and Democrats. Going from this board, at least, i’d certainly tend to agree that Republicans tend to be politer, but politeness alone is only a certain type of respect, if a welcome one. In the greater world I don’t really see any evidence that one side is more respectful of the other’s opionions - and the typical policies associated with the two sides seem to match each other pretty much as far as respectfulness goes.

Which I don’t understand.

Which I don’t understand as I’ve never seen a study that doesn’t show the opposite.

And that’s a reason to stop consenting adults from doing it?

I don’t understand why you keep talking about this. Did I say anything about free speech or restrictions thereof?

I can understand a lot of conservative positions, even ones I disagree with (e.g., that abortion is murder). But what I don’t understand is the sort of conservatism that opposes itself to the facts. For example, it has been fairly well-documented that abstinence-only education is not as effective as comprehensive sex ed in preventing undesired pregnancies and STDs. It has also been demonstrated that children raised by same-sex couples display no significant psychological differences compared to children raised by comparable heterosexual couples. Instead of accomodating itself to the facts, such conservatives, for example, just accuse the American Psychological Association of being left-wing and anti-family for endorsing gay adoption. Ditto with climate change. I am not a model of intellectual virtue, but I at least make an effort.

I can understand why some people oppose abortion. They think it’s murder.
I can’t understand why some of the same people oppose sex education + contraception, which is proven to cut down dramatically on abortion.
(The very few fanatics who kill doctors ‘to save lives’ are dangerous.)

I agree that some people have a knee-jerk reaction on crime, and don’t look at the facts.
The death penalty doesn’t deter murderers.
The War on Drugs doesn’t work.

I can understand why some people consider some sexual practices weird and unpleasant. (I have no wish to be ‘golden showered’, thank you. :eek:)
But I don’t think the State should interfere with what consenting adults get up to in private.
If there is evidence, for example, that a particular state of marriage hurts children, then the State should step in. However saying “The God I worship says this” is not evidence.

I have met some fundamentist right-wingers who not only think ‘liberals’ (= someone who believes in evolution) are going to Hell, but glory in the prospect of their eternal suffering.
This level of ignorance and hatred is certainly not matched by left-wingers.

Surely it becomes murder at some point though? I mean 5 seconds after a baby is born, to kill it would obviously be murder. How about 5 seconds before it is born? 1 hour? a week? 4 months? I think it is impossible for everyone to agree at what point it becomes murder, thus the conflict.

Fine, but so what? “I oppose X because it is Y” only makes sense if Y is something other than just a word. “Abortion is murder” is semantics, nothing else, and it is exactly as true as “abortion is not murder”.

When it “becomes murder” is irrelevant, a semantic game and nothing else. Yeah, legally we need to pick a point. People who would rather force unwilling mothers to have unwanted children than pick a point are the ones I’m talking about.

I know of no movement beyond the fringiest fringe that wants killing a newborn to be legal, so that particular bridge can be crossed when we come to it.

Well, murder is wrong. If some group of people were murdering [insert your favored oppressed group here], I would work to stop them. Conservatives think that this is what is happening, and they are working to stop it. This is one conservative position I can understand, even if I don’t agree with it. Telling a conservative, “Think abortion is murder? Don’t have one!” is like telling someone, “Think slavery is wrong? Don’t own one!” It’s not really proposing a morally adequate response to the perceived problem.

Exactly. Or as I’ve put it “If you don’t want to beat your wife, that’s your choice, but you mustn’t force your choice on me!”.

I do not, nor want to, beat my wife.

But if the attitude’s prevalent now, it’s not new. I remember a friend earnestly telling me twenty-five years ago that she just didn’t understand how anyone could vote Tory (which was amazing really, back in the Michael Foot era of the British Labour Party when you almost literally expected them to start barking any minute). I just smiled faintly and thought “Pat, there’s the fundamental difference, 'cos I sure as shooting ain’t voting Labour but I don’t make out like it’s incomprehensible why anyone would”. :dubious:

How about “abortion is the deliberate killing of an innocent human”? Would that be an understandable explanation for why they oppose it?

With the exception of those people who hold the more extreme viewpoint that opposes abortion even in the case of rape, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say they’d rather force unwilling mothers and fathers to have unwanted children if they refuse to use “better” methods to remove this possibility?

I think the fact that conservatives seem more polite here is because they are heavily outnumbered by liberals. You tend to choose your words carefully when you know they’re going to be scrutinized.
I think because liberals are the majority on the SDMB, they can get high and mighty and shun those that hold different opinions and have “We’re so Awesome” wankfests. But then again if this was a largely conservative message board, I’m thinking conservatives would not be so “polite” to the liberals either. I’m actually tempted to believe that they would be even less “subtle” in expressing disagreement. (Yes, I love quotes.)
I think liberals think conservatives are ignorant and conservatives think liberals are delusional, and both groups will express those sentiments freely if they know they’re going to get backed up.

I think there’s a difference between not understanding something and being deliberately obtuse.

Which do you think I’m doing, if I may ask?