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Bothersome exchange between family members

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My husband and my mother got into an asinine argument yesterday.

My husband claims bluntly to my hippy green obama-lovin mother "I don't like shaggy hair. I think men should have neat, short hair cuts, and women should have long hair. A man with shaggy hair is, to me, disrespectful."

(when someone says the phrase "to me," all thought stops)

My mother gets all prickly. "Shaggy hair? Like the Beatles?" "yeah." "Well I think buzz cuts are militaristic, and a show of totalitarianism. We fought hard in the 60s to end that kind of fascist mentality in college!"

(She thinks that when she uses "isms" and "istics" she sounds smart. A self described intellectual.)

My husband "In my opinion, a man should look like a man from behind. Long hair makes him look like a woman!"

Mom: "I think long hair is beautiful."

Finally I jumped in. "You are both wrong. He is wrong because when he uses the word respect, he means to use the word preference. And you are wrong because his preferences are of no concern to you!"

They ignore me, and continue on as if I am not there. I wish this were a rare experience, but I experience it day in and day out. Woe is moi.

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My husband and my mother got into an asinine argument yesterday.

My husband claims bluntly to my hippy green obama-lovin mother "I don't like shaggy hair. I think men should have neat, short hair cuts, and women should have long hair. A man with shaggy hair is, to me, disrespectful."

(when someone says the phrase "to me," all thought stops)

My mother gets all prickly. "Shaggy hair? Like the Beatles?" "yeah." "Well I think buzz cuts are militaristic, and a show of totalitarianism. We fought hard in the 60s to end that kind of fascist mentality in college!"

(She thinks that when she uses "isms" and "istics" she sounds smart. A self described intellectual.)

My husband "In my opinion, a man should look like a man from behind. Long hair makes him look like a woman!"

Mom: "I think long hair is beautiful."

Finally I jumped in. "You are both wrong. He is wrong because when he uses the word respect, he means to use the word preference. And you are wrong because his preferences are of no concern to you!"

They ignore me, and continue on as if I am not there. I wish this were a rare experience, but I experience it day in and day out. Woe is moi.

It's hard really to evaluate that exchange properly without more information. It looks innocent enough to me.

However, I think you're mother is right. Obama has a buzz cut and he's a fascist. :P

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(when someone says the phrase "to me," all thought stops)

Why? All that denotes is a personal preference, which fits with a discussion of hair style. If someone says, "To me, 2+2=4" or "To me, slavery is bad," then you can object, but if the context is a personal value, language that reflects that is rational.

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Just to be clear, I hope it's obvious that hair style is not coupled with character. Long, short or otherwise, I don't use a person's hair style to judge who they are.

Hair may be an indicator, but I think it's vital to look at how a person behaves and what they say as the real determinant of character.

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Why? All that denotes is a personal preference, which fits with a discussion of hair style. If someone says, "To me, 2+2=4" or "To me, slavery is bad," then you can object, but if the context is a personal value, language that reflects that is rational.

To the person who started this thread, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think what was meant by "all thought stops there" in regard to when somebody says "to me" is not that the person who said that is not thinking but instead that the person is recognizing here that they are just stating something they hold as an opinion as opposed to something they think is an objective fact that if you disagree with makes you wrong. That they recognize it is personal opinion and not some kind of factual and provable thing means you can "stop thinking there" because they haven't given cause to require or necessarily invite you to defend your opposing claim. You can just hear what they said and acknowledge it and move on. For example, that to me, aesthetically, nigh on everybody with a buzz cut could look better with something else done with their hair* and that I think neither long nor short hair will always look better on males or females as an entire group does not mean if you think otherwise you are wrong.

*I make exception though for people with REALLY curly hair. When the only shape you can get with it longer is some sort of puffy blob, I can agree with wanting to chop that thing down.

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Why? All that denotes is a personal preference, which fits with a discussion of hair style. If someone says, "To me, 2+2=4" or "To me, slavery is bad," then you can object, but if the context is a personal value, language that reflects that is rational.

The distinction you made between personal values and other types of values does not exist. All values are personal, and they should all be rational. Preferring free men is a personal value, just as hating long haired men is: the difference is that the first is rational, the other is not.

You took the irrational values, and slapped the tag "personal" onto them, thus magically turning them into rational values. It doesn't make sense.

And I agree, people who say "to me", mean it to prevent any potential questioning or disagreement. They don't think their personal preferences require any arguments. But in reality, all preferences are personal (if it's a person's opinion, then it's personal) , including one's take on the Holocaust, math, or hair, and all preferences need to be rational, and require arguments, if expected to be taken seriously by someone rational.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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And I agree, people who say "to me", mean it to prevent any potential questioning or disagreement. They don't think their personal preferences require any arguments. But in reality, all preferences are personal (if it's a person's opinion, then it's personal) , including one's take on the Holocaust, math, or hair, and all preferences need to be rational, and require arguments, if expected to be taken seriously by someone rational.

I'm notoriously guilty of summing up my thoughts into neat little one-liners. When someone says "to me" it's not exactly non thought but the end of thought. This is the way I think, this is the way I am, the end. No further discussion necessary. All opinions are not valid or based on rational reasoning. Opinions based on reason are superior to opinions based on feelings.

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My husband and my mother got into an asinine argument yesterday.

My husband claims bluntly to my hippy green obama-lovin mother "I don't like shaggy hair. I think men should have neat, short hair cuts, and women should have long hair. A man with shaggy hair is, to me, disrespectful."

(when someone says the phrase "to me," all thought stops)

That's a nice observation. From skimming the thread it doesn't look like anybody took it seriously, but I do, and I agree with your conclusion. "disrespectful" is more than a preference - it's a character judgement of other men. And as such, adding "to me" does indeed kill cognition for anyone seeking a discussion on the subject. Because... consider the following dialog:

"To me, justice consists of economic equality"

"You are wrong, it is UNjust to take away people's property by force and redistribute it"

"Well, you can't argue with my opinion, TO ME - this is unjust, to you - it is not."

This last sentence is like sand in one's motor of thinking, especially for a person not trained in philosophy (which, after listening to some Peikoff lectures, I can say I feel much more equipped to deal with the arbitrary).

It allows one to present whatever feelings or argument one has but without the necessity to contrast them to reality, to deal with contradictions someone else might point out.

Based only on this conversation though, I don't think it is enough to conclude the above as a mentality of avoiding respnsibility for one's reasoning behind one's ideas. I agree with the distinction KurtColville made.

He could simply have chosen the wrong words: "to me" instead of "I prefer", "they are disrespectful" instead of "I feel for some reason that I don't fully understand/ association that they are disrespectful to society". The subject involves a personal preference. It would be a different matter if this is the way they would talk about matters of justice, for example: "To me, this man must be guilty and should be locked. He just looks to me like the type that wants money regardless of who or what stands in his way". See now, that's a whole different ballpark.

Why they did not listen to you though - I think that's a bad sign, since what you said added a logical structure to their discussion. What does it say about them if they are not interested in considering it seriously? A single case is not enough to conclude, but it's enough to raise an eyebrow and keep questioning the subject in other circumstances.

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  • 2 months later...

I definitely prefer people with short hair. Buzzcuts are my favorite! :) I generally do not like people with long unkempt hair as they remind me of philosophically nihilist college students and hippies. In general the current generation of students seem to be keen on looking like hippies, which is a sign of the bad times for us. :pirate:

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