You’re not entitled to your opinion: Or, the aggressive ignorance of the 21st century

I’ve seen other people explain why “everyone is entitled to their own opinion” and “everyone can believe whatever they want to believe” are bad arguments. But I continue to see people use these arguments, so I’m doing it again. And because I’ve seen it come up recently, I want to apply it to people who say that they “just don’t believe in gay marriage.”

A legal designation isn’t even the type of thing you can believe or not believe in to begin with, but we use the word “belief” in very bizarre ways in the 21st century. Let me clear that up first.

A belief is an acceptance that something is true or that it exists. You can’t really say “I don’t believe in gay marriage,” because marriage is a social convention that already exists, and “gay marriage” is just extending that convention to gay people, who also already exist.

An opinion is a judgment that is not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. Opinions are not conclusive and cannot ground an argument. Opinions are things like matters of taste. Here’s an example: I don’t like Jello. That’s an opinion. Jello is not objectively awful. It’s not wrong for other people to like Jello. It’s just not to my taste.

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