Both of the above options are seriously flawed. In the first case, I'll be adding fuel to a fire that I think is burning in the wrong place and needs to be seriously redirected, and that's something that, quite honestly, I'm no longer interested in--mostly because I think the rhetoric behind said discussions general runs or dissolves into something like this: "I'm right because I say so and because I disregard contrary evidence and resort to ad hominem," which is a poor argument indeed.
In the second case, I'll be punishing people who aren't responsible for the actions of others. It's a silly option the more I think about it, but the segment of that community who brought me to this decision have begun to influence how I think about the movement of which they are a part. Such influence wouldn't a problem if I disagreed with all of them, but is because I think, overall, the movement is absolutely vital. The fact that my opinions are being tainted by the more radical group is, for me, unacceptable. It's a terrible, unfair human reaction that we all have at some point or another. Pathos works in wondrous ways.
So, I have come up with a third option that is a compromise between the two. I have made the decision not to discuss certain aspects of the topic on this blog. The topic will still appear, but probably less frequently and definitely not in relation to the aspect that I disagree with. I'm also going to officially cut out and ignore the segment of the community who I feel have lost their way, rather than everyone. I'm not going to allow that segment to influence how I feel about the movement in general, because it's not fair to those who are doing good work with better arguments, better tactics, and a larger interest in open discussion with people who may be outside of their movement. I'd rather help the people I agree with and completely ignore those that I don't, than disengage entirely. And I am well aware that this is not a perfect option either, but I prefer to save my sanity and focus more on what I can actually do to make things better, rather than waste my time arguing with people who cannot think outside of their view of reality.
Having said all of that, you might be wondering what I'm actually talking about. I'm talking about the women's rights movement. There have been a number of instances this year, but the catalyst was this "argument" (for lack of a better word) over at Cheryl Morgan's blog (between Morgan and myself, and eventually between Morgan and a friend). You can read the comments if you so choose. I assume that if you read the comments (mine, Cheryl's, and my friend's) objectively, you'll see what's wrong with the whole thing (and I'm not saying that what I wrote was somehow infallible, because it wasn't).
So, that's that. The condescension, rudeness, dismissal, and so on are not effective strategies, and seem only to alienate people who might actually be willing to learn, rather than change opinions or perform a didactic role. There's a complete lack of mutual respect, and you can't foster good relations, change, and so on without that (in my opinion). So, I'm disengaging and focusing my energies on things that are either more interesting to me or might produce better results (you know, like supporting campaigns to help bring educational supplies to women in impoverished regions across the world...like the one here, which I've donated to before).
So, how are you?