Since I was a teenager, I noticed when people discussed an issue or topic that was contentious and heated, the typical style was to attack the person and not the topic. This is called argumentum ad hominem. As I became slightly more sophisticated, I realized that, in many cases, one was not simply attacking the character of the other person but simply dismissing their side of the argument by considering that what they were arguing was just not right.  In respond to this observation, I coined the phrase, “your opinion is wrong.”  My friends and I began to use this non-sequitur as a weapon against anyone arguing against us.

Now, what makes it a non-sequitur (see the link for a definition) is the absurdity of the phrase itself.

How can someone’s opinion be wrong?

It cannot be, for each is entitled to his or her opinion. Now, an opinion can be based on incorrect, outdated or incomplete information, but in and of itself, an opinion cannot be wrong.

Take for example, recent discussions here on Mormon Matters. There are certain topics that engender (an ironic use of the word, I suppose) heated discussions. Homosexuality and Same Sex Marriage (SSM) are at the top of the list.

With regard to permitting SSM, if you are against it, you are labeled a bigot, if you are for it (and a member of the LDS Church), you are borderline apostate and if you practice it, you are labeled a deviant. All the while the conversation states that people are entitled to their opinion and free to do, say and think what they choose.

But not really. Not if you read the comments and the discussions that transpire.

In many cases, the unspoken phrase, “your opinion is wrong” permeates the comments.  Again, the opinion may be based on religious, societal, biological or even incorrect information or views.  But, it is just that, an opinion.

Some opinions carry more weight than others.  A court “opinion” may carry the weight of law. An opinion of an ecclesiastical authority may result in Church discipline and the opinion of a teacher may result in a particular grade.  In some cases, opinions count for almost nothing, like the countless, endless discussions you hear on TV and radio talk shows. And, pretty much for most of the discussions here.

So how many times have you evoked the phrase, “your opinion is wrong” in the course of your discussions?”

BTW, if you disagree with anything I’ve said in this post, yes, you guess it, “your opinion is wrong.”