Steven W. Buehler

God, Games, and Geekery.

Differences of Opinion


This post is going to lose me some friends online (and probably IRL also). But I think it says what a lot of folks in my generation (and older, perhaps) are thinking but are afraid to say. It’s going to come across one way to some, a totally different way to others. Honestly, I stopped caring a long time ago.

It doesn’t take very much looking around these days to quickly find that we live in a very divided age. We are divided by race, by sex, by “orientation”, by whether we’re “woke” or “boomer”, “progressive” or “conservative”. “Cancel culture” is alive and well on social media where people who don’t whole heartedly agree with the alleged “majority” are summarily deleted or ignored out of existence. It seems nobody wants to hear anything that conflicts with his or her view of the small world they’ve put around them.

Much of this conflict has been brought to the fore by the recent death of Mr. George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis. Suddenly “Black Lives Matter” more than anything else on the planet. Mr. Floyd is made into a martyr of the movement, in spite of the context that his own conduct bears the indicia of someone who is less than virtuous (an extensive rap sheet, under the influence of meth when he was killed—clearly he did not deserve what he received, but let’s put things back into context. Did he have a weak moment while trying to turn his life around? Who knows…I’m not going to speculate.).

Mind you, the black people of America have a valid point. My white race has not been kind to black people over the years (Slavery, anyone? Segregation? “Separate but Equal?”). Nor has my race been kind to Native Americans (they now live on reservations after we took away their lands and moved ourselves in), nor to Asians (does the rounding up and impounding of Japanese citizens in camps during World War II ring a bell?). Racism, while not “systemic” as BLM claims, is definitely, at a minimum, widespread. To say such things are “systemic” ignores the data, as well as laws like “Affirmative Action” and “race quotas”. It also ignores the data that suggests that such things as violence between people of their own race are far more “systemic” than white versus black these days. If movements like BLM truly wish to improve their condition, they need to start amongst themselves.

Equal vs. Special Treatment.

There is a difference between equal treatment and special treatment. Equal treatment seeks to treat every individual the same in terms of quality of life, opportunities, and responsibilities, regardless of one’s attributes like but not limited to race, sex, sexuality, or personal opinion. Special treatment seeks to treat certain classes of individuals better or as being in a higher class or social status than those who are not in that group. Equal treatment is right and just. Special treatment is not. What I sense from many of these movements is that they express a desire for equal treatment when what they really want (whether they know this or not) is special treatment, or they want all the benefits of equal treatment without any of its responsibilities.


In the midst of all this, attention then turns to an author, Mrs. J. K. Rowling. Known around the world as the author of the Harry Potter series of books, which is considered the best selling book series of all time. It all begins when Mrs. Rowling “likes” a tweet that comes across as “transphobic” (I personally hate the use of “phobic” in any of these descriptions—the term “phobia” indicates a fear of something, when the more accurate description is that someone dislikes something rather than is afraid of it).

To further dig herself into a hole, she posts the following, and then follows up with still more tweets that the media claims are her “doubling down” on her position:

In response, the stars of the films based on her books distance themselves from her in an effort to prove they are more “woke” than “boomer” Rowling. That’s their right. I’ve also seen name-calling like “Judgmental Karen” Rowling, as one example.

But it’s also Mrs. Rowling’s right to speak her own mind as well, even if the “popular” people don’t agree with what she has to say. Ultimately, it results in a lengthy “answer” that she posted to her own web site. Which I read (I wonder how many of these “woke” people also did). Which I also found very enlightening and providing an immense amount of context for her views.

I support J. K. Rowling. I also support the rights of others to live their own lives as they see fit inasmuch as they also accept the responsibilities that go with the life they choose to live. That’s called individual responsibility and common sense. It’s something that seems to be lacking in a lot of places. I can offer my opinions, my counsel, my suggestions; but in the end it’s your choice and your responsibility, not mine.

There must also be an understanding that I am not required to either listen to or back up your opinion. I choose to listen out of respect for you as a fellow human being. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with or approve of it. That also doesn’t mean that there won’t ever come a time where such differences of opinion require us to go separate ways for a while—or for good.

Following up.

Now, where are my data interests in all this? Right now I’m very interested in the data around crime between and within races, in particular because of statements made by race-based movements like BLM. I’m in the process of figuring out the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System, which is a go-to for national-level detailed data on crime in the United States. It’s a massive multi-format data set (nearly three gigabytes of plain text in various line formats), so it’ll take time to work out how to import it into something I can work with.

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