Posted by: Hannah | 08/28/2012

burning my bridges

Alison wrote a post recently about why she wouldn’t eat at Chick-Fil-A, if indeed we had such a thing in Canada. Go read it, it’s really good. She says in part:

“I have a terrible habit of hearing about stuff … going all incandescent with rage, then immediately getting so tired that I can barely lift my fingers to type, and thinking that nothing I say will make a difference anyway.”

And man, do I get that. Michael hears the brunt of it, because I am actually incredibly opinionated and reasonably well-informed. But I’m also a people-pleaser, and my online friends are such a lifeline for me that I often close the laptop and walk away rather than saying what I think, because I don’t want to offend anyone. And why does it make any difference to anyone what I think about climate change, or American politics, or the new math? All I’m doing is winding people up.

Or maybe not. Silence on important issues is never the answer. And by biting my tongue, I’m not really developing my online friendships into something deeper and more real. If you only know sanitized me, then you don’t actually know me at all. And I’m getting too old and crotchety to keep up a bunch of superficial relationships based on my ability to pretend to always see all sides to an argument as equally valid.

Does this I’m going to turn into a grouchy, mean-spirited, argumentative bitch? I certainly hope not. And sometimes I will still close the laptop and walk away. But not always.

Here! My list of possibly-contentious opinions. I may go into more depth on some in future posts. I may not. I’m just getting some things off my chest.

  1. I wouldn’t eat at Chick-Fil-A, either. Not if I were starving on the sidewalk outside. Does a CEO’s personal opinion affect whether or not I will buy their widget? No. Not unless their profits go to support a cause I strongly disagree with. Then, their personal opinion has become their business identity and if I wouldn’t agree with their opinion why would I give them my money? Does not compute.
  2. Related – I think “love the sinner, hate the sin” is the biggest bullshit copout in the history of ever.
  3. If you don’t ‘believe in’ climate change, vaccinations, or the clear evidence-based link between refined sugar and the onset of Type 2 diabetes, I think less of you. Because SCIENCE.
  4. If you think a happy, well-adjusted child never cries, I think you’re a well-intentioned parent who is raising a future basketcase who can’t cope with failure or struggle.
  5. If you name your kid something trendy, hard to pronounce, impossible to spell because “the T is silent”, or just plain weird, I will roll my eyes at you. Frequently.
  6. If you think Stephanie Meyer or E.L. James are good authors who deserve all the money, I’ll never take seriously a single book recommendation you give me. Ever.
  7. If you never feed your kids fresh produce, especially now during harvest season when it’s all readily-available and inexpensive, I think that’s almost criminally stupid and short-sighted. And I feel sorry for your kids.
  8. I am pro-choice. I think all women should have access to an abortion if that is the right choice for them, regardless of where they live or what their circumstances are. That said, I would not have one myself. If I honestly felt I couldn’t raise a child, I would put the baby up for adoption.
  9. If you want to homeschool, I have nothing but respect for you – it’s a full-time job and then some, and takes an amazing amount of dedication and commitment. But ‘unschooling’ just sounds to me like ‘the normal interactions we should all be having with our kids every day anyway’.
  10. If you think voting conservative, whether in Canada or the US, is automatically the best choice for the economy because ‘conservative’ means ‘careful with money’, I will wonder if you ever read a newspaper with a critical eye. George W. Bush’s government inflated the deficit and debt to ridiculous levels. Stephen Harper’s government took a very comfortable surplus, pissed it away, and didn’t fix the economy or do anything to address Canada’s growing trade deficit or productivity problems. Conservatives are not gifted with supernatural economic powers. Look at the record, not the reputation.

Anyone else? Want to confess an unpopular opinion in the comments?



  1. I nodded and snort-laughed my way through the list. Apparently I have opinions, too…but they line up very nicely with yours.

  2. Only three of these are somewhat unpopular in my local area:
    1. Being pro-vaccine: the ethos of this town is that one must be anti-vax. If one is pro-vax, one must not judge anyone who is anti-vax. And preferably, one feels inferior to them.
    I am wholeheartedly pro-vax.

    2. Trendy names: These are popular here. Extremely. There is nothing to do about it but try to grasp the correction pronunciation so you don’t offend anyone and so the kids actually respond. This does not mean anyone around here can spell Isaac correctly.

    3. Unschooling: Similar to the vaccine situation, very few people are actually doing it, but we are also supposed to feel inferior to them. The vast majority of kids by far are in public school and there is a good size population of kids in Montessori Schools, Magnet Schools, and being traditionally home schooled usually by mom but sometimes by dad too.

    The rest of them are what we’d call, social norms here in crunchy western mass. A friend of mine recently asked me if we felt “persecuted” for attending a local church. He is not a local. I explained that the cultural here is such that it is no more acceptable to judge me for going to an Episcopal church on the corner than it is to judge my jewish neighbor from attending shul or synagogue. Many Christians simply don’t believe this is possible. They seem to believe that if America “allows” (ahem…) itself to be a pluralistic society that the church will somehow ended up being persecuted and believers sent to be eaten by lions or gladiators as they were in ancient Rome. I think that is sad. I also think it is a lie perpetuated by folks who’d like to keep the upper hand.

  3. Oooh, I like this. I heart you very much. Unschooling – what’s up with that? Isn’t that just life with children? Going to the grocery store and pointing out the word “Milk”?

    I do not talk politics, just in general. But you know, I am an economist. So…I do have some economic opinions. And I don’t think it’s a matter of one political party being better than another, in any way. I think that politics is all sorts of grey – 50 SHADES OF GREY, MAYBE. Ew, maybe not. But. Economic difficulties and debt for our country began many years ago, and some of that was the global environment, but much of it was directly related to the fiscal policies of Trudeau. Payment for those policies has been continuing until this day. So, while the way I vote varies from election to election, I do think it’s dangerous to think that any one party is THE party that will be the answer to all our problems. Government waste is enormous, and spending can be suspect whether a politician is Conservative, Liberal, or NDP. So…I don’t know where I’m going with this, but the Canadian economy is doing okay in comparison with global trends. The productivity issues and trade deficit have less to do with Canadian fiscal policy and more to do with global economic trends. Which is not to say things couldn’t be improved, but I don’t think that any party is the answer. And, as with anything in life, I think some parties do some things very well, and other things not well at all.

    But I hate talking about politics! So I’ll stop now. I just can’t resist talking economics because I am a huge giant nerd.

    Whew! Anyway, I wholeheartedly agree with every other thing you’ve listed here especially weird kid names. Give the children a break. Good grief.

    I was brought up in the Lutheran church – like you, I think? – which is, I think, one of the least warm and welcoming denominations ever, and I remember so clearly hearing that Love the sinner, hate the sin babble. Not true. This is especially not true of homosexuality. If homosexuality is an integral part of who a person is, then if you hate homosexuality, you hate homosexuals. END OF STORY.

  4. I really like that you have opinions, and I admire people who willingly express their views on topics, particularly when they follow up those views with reasons why they hold them. While I hold opinions on things myself and will often happily espouse them in conversation I find I hesitate to do so online. This is partly that I don’t want to offend others, and partly that I am always open to the idea that with further information I may change my mind or take a different perspective so I hesitate to commit to the permanency of the digital record. Not to mention that views couched in various clauses of when they wouldn’t apply doesn’t make for scintillating reading.

    Plus, in some areas having vastly different opinions really doesn’t make much differences. For instance, I am highly leery of the Disney franchise, but have ended up getting to know people who are huge fans and I am not in any way put off by their enthusiasm for something that holds minimal appeal to me and is associated with a complex mix of thoughts and emotions. Or, I would rather have my nails ripped off than give my child some wildly weird spelling for their name, but happily find out the right spelling and strive to remember it when friends have scratched that particular parenting itch in naming their children.

    In many ways I like people who think differently than I do, as they push me to evaluate things from a different perspective and hopefully enable me to end up with a more considered opinion than the first, fifth or even fiftieth thought that comes into my head. That said, like the majority of the world I naturally gravitate to those who are similar, which is why your list is so familiar. 🙂

  5. Agreed, on all accounts.

    Re: Chick-a-fil – If you know a company (not just a high ranking official from the company, but the company itself) is supporting something (with money or advertising or whatever) that you don’t agree with and you buy product form them, then you’re just a big ol’ hypocrite. Not that I’m perfect, but I make my choices as carefully as I can with the information I have and try to only support companies that aren’t arseholes, like Chick-a-fil.

    RE: loving the sinner – Yeah, what’s with that!? You’re supporting the sin by supporting the sinner. If the “sinner” did something out of ignorance and tries to make amends once they’ve been made aware of their error, fine. I’m all about forgiveness *when it’s deserved*.

    As a childless person, I’m sure that any opinion I have with regards to children or child rearing is controversial, but screw that. I have younger siblings (lots, if you count my extended family) and was a frequent babysitter/nanny until my late 20s. I also know how to read and think critically. So, I may not know all the answers, but I know enough to know that a “perfect” childhood is a wasted childhood, sheltered kids turn into needy and mal-adjusted adults, threatening a child with no candy isn’t going to work if you don’t follow through, and not all kids have ADD.

    I don’t believe in God. I’m not an asshole to Christians (in fact, I tend to stay pretty neutral, as I have a retired minister in my family), but I do have some pretty strong opinions about what some religious people do in the name of their god(s) and how some seem to think that they have a right to push their beliefs on others.

    Also, I really hate how most people chose ignorance instead of facing the painful truth. For example, in relation to things like how farm animals are treated. If you don’t have a problem eating dead cow, fine. I don’t care, as long as you don’t try and make me eat it. But, have the decency to admit to the fact that many farm raised animals have horrible short lives and that they aren’t stupid automatons like the industry wants us to believe. Sheep remember faces for up to 20 years, pigs are smarter than dogs, etc. I get in a lot of “trouble” for believing this and often get accused of trying to make everyone vegetarian even when I simply make an innocent statement about how I’m vegetarian, but it’s the truth and I believe in the truth, and, as you said, science, which is what people used to discover that farm animals aren’t mindless zombies who are totally cool with being trapped in overcrowded cages, etc.

  6. Kind of more like Quadelle in my thought process. I also tend to try to see the other’s point of view, and frequently wind up less annoyed by the person, and more annoyed about the supports (or lack) that they have recieved.
    But I had to laugh over the EL James one – I have a neighbor who LOVED 50 Shades and thinks marriage is between a man and a woman. I confess I totally think less of her. I’m not sure which reason holds more weight with my decision :P…Anyway I think I made myself clear so she thinks less of me too. That’s okay, sometimes not being liked is a compliment.
    (I meant to give you props for actually being able to read the book, I tried just to see what the fuss what about, and couldn’t be bothered to get past the first few chapters. Life is too short to read shit)

  7. 1. Neither would I. and wouldn’t their official opinion be considered HATE SPEECH in Canada? Gonna go stand on a chair and sing O Canada at the top of my lungs.
    2. Mph. I DO agree with you – it’s a bogus position – but I do see the bind that some traditional Christian denominations are stuck in, trying to adhere to the traditional sexual morality which is a big deal for them while trying to come to grips with recent knowledge of how innate people’s sexuality actually is.
    3. Climate change and vaccinations: oui. Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes – it’s complicated. YES, over-consumption of refined sugar is dangerous, especially for people with a predisposition to the disease but I think that a moderate consumption of sugar is a benign element in most people’s diets – “moderate”, of course, being the part that we’ve forgotten.
    4. I do think that it’s not great to let small babies cry. I don’t think babies have the intellectual or emotional capacity to judge why they’re crying and that they shouldn’t be left to cry – and I mean actual distressed crying here and not bored whining or what have you. There’s research that long periods of crying floods their developing brains with stress hormones BUT I do think that some parents carry this philosophy on far too long and damage not only their growing child’s ability to do things that they MUST do (like fall asleep without their mother laying down with them for HOURS every night, my God) but ALSO with their parent’s relationship. I don’t think it’s by accident that almost every hard-core Attachment Parenting family I know or have heard of is now divorced.
    5. A lot of people think my kids have weird, unattractive names, actually. Now, they aren’t people who I would ever consult for any OTHER choice in my life, so I don’t care.
    6. Agree. But a book can be a bad book and still a fun drunken weekend read.
    7. Well, yes. But ENJOYING fresh produce – and even thinking of it as an option – is a learned behaviour. It is very hard to undo a lifetime of thinking about food, so I’m very cautious about making blanket statements about food and eating.
    8. Same.
    9. I think that many, MANY people who homeschool have no business doing ANYthing of the sort. I’ve read on discussion boards where other parents reassure homeschooling mothers that it’s perfectly fine that their 12 year old children have never had any exposure whatsoever to art class and can barely read. THIS IS NOT FINE; YOU ARE DOING A TERRIBLE THING TO YOUR KIDS. But homeschooling, done well by intelligent parents who are aware that their children must also become adequately socialized human beings, is great.
    10. I vote all over the place. Fiscally, I often tend to side more with the Conservatives. I think I’m fairly well informed, actually. But after seeing the political response to the local disaster, I probably will never vote conservative again.
    11. Vegetarianism – it is not actually a solid fact that most farm animals have short nasty lives, with the exception of chickens, I guess. My father has a beef farm. The cattle in his care are well cared for, named and known and spend their lives under shady trees in grassy fields. The beef magazines he gets has many, many articles on improving the lives and well-being of the animals in the farmers care – farmers who tend to go into farming because they love animals. Not to be a pollyanna – as I mentioned, I think the chicken industry needs serious scrutiny, and the welfare of animals is a worthwhile discussion – but I see no moral issues with eating meat.

  8. Beck: Agreed. Not all farms are bad and not all farm animals have short horrible lives. I should have qualified all instances of “farm animals” with “many” (in other words, it should read” For example, in relation to things like how *many* farm animals are treated.”). There are lots of local, organic, and regular farms that I would happily buy meat from, if I were inclined to eat meat (or, if I had meat eating family memebers to feed) because the animals are taken care of and I respect the efforts being made. But, a lot of people (and maybe this is just a beef loving Alberta thing?) don’t care or want to know anything about how some farms/practices are horrible and inhumane in every sense of the word.

    Also, you make some very good points about home schooling.

  9. Let’s see.

    My unpopular opinions:

    1) I love Chick Fil A. Or CFA, as we call it here. Tasty food, exceptional customer service. I think the head honcho can say what he wants, which was, by the way, “we are all husbands of our first wives” which, if you think about it, isn’t a horrible thing to say.

    2) I am pro-life. Pretty unabashedly. I really think that life starts at conception, and since we cannot really figure out exactly when such a life is viable and/or sentient, I want to err on the side of protecting the most vulnerable. I know there are all sorts of reasons that a woman might become pregnant and not be able to or want to raise the child. Adoption is a very good option, though not the only one. AND I put my money (and for many years, lots of time) working with organizations that support women through their pregnancies.

    3) I am a woman and I plan to vote Republican. 🙂

    4) I think President Obama is a terrible president, and I think he is more than a little narcissistic, but I don’t have feelings about him personally.

    5) I hate stupid made-up names for children, but if I had had a daughter, I was going to fight for Siobhan, partly because it is so stinking hard to spell. I am ornery.

    I still like you even though we disagree over so much!

  10. I think it’s good to be around people who disagree with you because the Internet, the way it’s structured and the way our communities form, makes us want to hide away in our nice closets with people who agree with us and then when we go outside and meet people who think things that horrify us, we don’t know what to do. If you’re non-confrontational, like me, then you shrink away in horror and get angry later, with great consequences for blood pressure, etc. If you’re confrontational you might get into a fist-fight or screaming match with someone who honestly believes his/her opinion is more valid than yours.

    If I were writing one of those posts that reads “10 things everyone should do on twitter” number two would be: everyone should follow someone on twitter that makes them go “huh? what?” every once in a while. Keeps you supple.

  11. Its’ funny, in my IRL community I am VERY, VERY liberal. Here, most of you would find me quite conservative.
    I am also hesitant to express my opinions because they are a bit different than yours, but since you all love me anyway:
    1. WE don’t have a Chik Fil A in Canada, but I will probably eat at one next time I go to the states. I like their food, I think the media grossly distorted what the dude said and his opinions are those of pretty much everyone i hang with. Not totally mine, I do support gay marriage,(it is a human right) which would get me into LOTS of trouble if I was open on that opinion, but i do believe that for Christians, if you are gay, you need to stay celibate. I also believe that Christians shouldn’t sleep around before marriage. If this isn’t your faith, then it is up to you what you do. The rules aren’t the same for those that don’t adhere to my faith.
    2. It is too simplistic, but I do get the rationale behind it. Sorta.
    3. Uh huh. although I agree with Beck, moderation is key in diet issues.
    4. I am happy and well adjusted and cry on a regular basis. Why can’t kids?
    5. Today in school I was doing my LEVEL best not to comment on some of my student’s name’s. OY. I am a big fan of normal names, that being said, many of my friends give their kids weird names. I laugh about it on twitter and move on.
    6. HAVE NOT READ ANY OF THE BOOKS. I trust you all who say they are bad. Besides, I like spy novels, not girl stuff.
    8. I am pro-life. However, I do not support picketing abortion clinics, scary billboards or violence. Abortion will always be around. I would just like to see it much less by improving access to healthcare and reducing poverty. (easy, simple stuff. :))
    There, now I am very nervous. I am usually not this open.

  12. I am all over the map with my opinions. And they are constantly evolving. I hope that’s a worthwhile thing. The more I learn, my opinions change. I am a southern, white Fundie. BUT– I hate the reputation we have earned for ourselves. My opinions don’t line up at all with a typical conservative.

    The whole Chickfila day made me pretty sad.

    Every person needs respect and compassion, even ones I don’t agree with. If I come at them with ugly hate, what good is that going to do? Many of my tribe are so busy hating sin that we never even get the chance to love the sinner. We’ve driven them away.

    I believe in climate change.

    Agree with you on the books. People often recommend Karen Kingsbury to me because, you know…Christian. They are AWFUL. I never talk books again with those people.

    I’m pro life. However. That means all human life. Death row life, illegal alien life, people needing health insurance life, even the lives of enemies. I do respect that women have a legal choice and would only offer compassionate support in circumstances that I can really only imagine as desperate. And I think we should be willing to offer help and assistance to the women who choose not to abort, and not while grumbling about the welfare state.

    I tried homeschooling. It was not successful. Thankfully, my kids rebounded and I didn’t damage them too terribly. 🙂 I respect anyone who can pull it off.

  13. I say VERY YES to these, to which I add:

    If you regularly put your under-two in front of the TV set, I judge you, ESPECIALLY if you think it’s promoting his development because that means that you apparently don’t read – ALL the research says it’s harmful. If you know it’s harmful and you do it occasionally anyway, well, we all make decisions like that.

    If you know it’s harmful and you do it all the time anyway, though, I EXTRA judge.

    It’s the difference between thinking McDonald’s is healthy (I judge), thinking it’s okay in small doses even though it’s not GOOD (normal), and knowing it’s bad and feeding it every day because you just don’t care (extra judging).

  14. If you can’t state your opinions on your own blog, what’s the point of having one, right? I’m so happy you had the guts to express your opinions and the reasons behind them, and even happier to see those individuals you were afraid of upsetting or offending doing the very same in a calm and rational manner. My faith in humanity has been restored; at the very least I’m feeling a tad less misanthropic right now (or maybe it’s the beer I just finished…).

    In case you couldn’t guess, I agree with you on most points (I’ll take your word on the whole Fifty Shades thing, as this is yet another western pop culture phenomenon I was completely unaware of until I read about it on your blog!). Except for.. the name thing. If anything I think the world could use more original names than what is currently available; if you think about it, all names had to have been “made up” at one point or another, so why not create some more? In fact, I came up with my current internet name not too long ago after I attended a party where about 50 people were present, and 3 of them had the same first name as I did! I’m sure your hubby can relate; remember the “slanty shanty” days? 😉

  15. I stay offline a lot because I AM terribly judgy and just don’t have the patience for a lot of the crap anymore…I just got so bloody tired of feeling wound up or annoyed or…whatever else I’d feel. I will say tho, that at this point the “creative use of Y or I” names drives me around the bend. Last year almost all the kids in one the girl’s classes had interesting spelled names. And not even things that made sense phoenetically. Just jacked up vowel insanity. I know that in the future it will be “normal” but damn…it looks ridiculous. (and I LOVE Siobhan but I grew up with one so after my brain got over a few years of WTF at the spelling, I lURVED it.)

    Be cranky. It’s one of the benefits of old age. That and an airsoft gun on the porch 😀

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