FanPost

Josh Thompson, Gay Rights, and the Logic of Self-Refuting Statements.

To even a casual observer of the MMA blogosphere, one thing ought to be abundantly clear after the past several months: MMA fighters, as a whole, are not necessarily vanguards of the movements seeking equal rights for the LGBTQ community. Far from it.

From Nick Diaz and Mike Kogan's flippant and unrepentant use of a nasty slur for homosexuals; to how Matt Mitrione's bizarre tirade was Limbaugh-esque in its ineptitude (Joe), UFC fighters have shown courage in resisting the increasingly large shadow of decency, forethought, and tolerance creeping over their lives like an invading enemy horde.

Enter Josh Thompson's recent comments on Facebook, wherein he invokes the ever-popular slippery slope and false equivalency fallacies to link gay marriage with pedophilia and bestiality. Thompson's comments exhibit important similarities to the trend established by Diaz and Mitrione, most notably in that their comments were stupid, unsubstantiated, and offensive. Where Thompson differentiates himself, however, is through his weak and unconvincing attempts to couch his insensitivity in the language of intellectual dialogue - being an academic, he was simply trying to provoke thought on some of the bigger issues that come up when people start to fight...for equality. No, Josh, no you were not.

Perhaps due to Thompson's attempts (and failures) to provide a cogent argument for his views, the pro-Thompson comments on these articles were considerably more sane than the pro-Diaz and pro-Mitrione comments on those articles, respectively. While these comments came in a few flavours, invariably they boiled down to a hurried mixture of, "PC police...blah, blah" with a dash of "...all opinions are valid/equal...blah, blah."

The people who put forward this defense of Thompson are wrong. And I mean that not in that sense that people who think Nickleback are a good band are wrong, but in the sense that people who think 2+2 = 17 are wrong: they are objectively, plainly, and demonstrably wrong.

See, the statement "all opinions" are valid is what we call a "self-refuting statement" in the philosophical jargon. It is a type of proposition that implies its own contradiction, in and because of the very act of holding it as valid. If we hold that the statement "all opinions are valid" is true, then we must necessarily hold that the opinion, "not all opinions are valid" is also true. Obviously, this state of affairs is completely fucking absurd, and one of these statements has to go. (I will give you a clue: it's the first one).

Opinions, as the old adage tell us, are just like assholes: some are inherently inferior to others (I think that's how it goes?). So, it's wrong to defend the making of Thompson's statements based on some vacuous idea that all are opinions valid, simply because people are capable of having them. Some opinions, like Thompson's, or those defending him, are wrongheaded and need to be combated for the sake of tolerance if nothing else.

But beyond being logically incoherent, something else needs to be said about defending Thompson's statements -whether one is doing so in principle, or in practice. Statements aren't made in a vacuum, free from interaction and interference with the outside world, and the idea that words are just words is silly and dated. Words are alive, and vibrant; they come associated with a whole history whose character it is not ours to dictate as we please. To use a word is to accept its history, and therefore to welcome the word, phrase, idiom, or what have you, to imbrue your current conversation with whatever meaning the word, phrase, or idiom came packaged with.

This is why comparing homosexual marriage to bestiality or pedophilia, and doing so publicly and thoughtlessly, is not okay: vile, hateful people made those type of comparisons in the sake of punishing and moralising homosexual behaviour, and not in the interest of, "provoking thought on bigger issues." And this is also why defending Thompson's capacity to make the statement, or being insouciant about the fact that he made them, is not okay - by doing so you are breathing life into the whole rotten and complicated history of homophobia that needs to be put to bed.

Not all opinions are valid; in fact, some are brilliant while others are stupid. Before you try to equalize every one simply in the interest of "standing up for free speech," you should think about which side of that fence they fall on.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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