Expressing a desire to have a conversation about subject “X” probably seems eminently reasonable to most people. Conversing, discussing, debating– it’s how we challenge our own beliefs and the beliefs of others. Occasionally its how we come to a consensus. So, yay, conversation! I’m all for conversing. What I’m not for is asking to have a conversation as a cover for venting bigotry.
To be clear, when people whine that they “just want to have a conversation,” what they are–all too often– really saying is “I want to say horrible things about a group of people and not be challenged or pay any sort of price for doing so.” Well, I’m sorry, but conversation doesn’t work that way. If you say something disgusting–even if you do so under the veil of question-begging or dog whistling–people might then be prompted to say something back. And you may not like what they have to say.
Hey, I know you “just want to have a conversation about race.” That’s great. I want to have a conversation about how Rush Limbaugh fucks underage prostitutes while hopped up on Oxycontin and Monster energy drink. But if I do so, I can expect blowback.
Hey, I know you just want to just want to have a conversation about how buttsex makes Jesus cry impotent tears of rage. I want to discuss how I suspect that most gun-humpers are only slightly more emotionally stable than Buffalo Bill. But if I do so, I can expect blowback. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m talking about gun fetishists; I can probably expect death threats or worse.
But my point stands: Using “conversation” as a cover for your bigotry is not just obnoxiously disingenuous, it’s cowardly.
Besides, Jason Collins coming out is an unalloyed good. Conversation over.
UPDATE: I learned about the Philly Mag article from commenters here at LGM. If you provided a link to that article, please pipe up so I can credit you.