Created on Sunday, 16 September 2012 11:12
“Don’t judge me.”
How often is this superficially moral request made?
The idea of judgment of personal opinions and habits gets a bad rap in our culture, and the effects of this attitude can be problematic to the way we approach discourse and impact society.
It seems most people do not understand what it means when they ask others not to judge.
Judgment is considered arrogant, narrow-minded – a practice of bigots.
This impression is false.
The true purpose of judgment is to apply personal and ideally objective standards to the world around us – something every intelligent person does.
The world of racists and homophobes consists of those who lack the ability for moral or objective evaluation.
In many cases, the request to not be criticized by others is fairly harmless, with people simply asking that their hobbies and personal interests not be critiqued too severely.
In other cases, however, not voicing critical evaluations out of regard for others impacts one crucial area: peoples’ opinions and behavior.
I’ve noticed that many people get upset with those who are overly critical of the opinions of others on matters such as religion, politics and even behavior.
Judgment in these areas is resisted more than any other, probably because it is the area where judgment is most necessary.
Certain opinions are superior to others and certain behaviors are destructive and stupid, and for the betterment of society, these things ought to be pointed out and discussed.
People in general don’t like this because those are the types of judgment that cut closest to personal identity.
Humans love to cling to their prejudices and assumptions, and an accurate, stinging critique of their worldviews can be personally damaging.
Understanding this helps in understanding what the non-judgment culture really is about: a contract by which we as people agree not to challenge each other’s opinions to avoid hurting each other or argument.
Nobody likes to be judged, but we all must be.
Our opinions and behavior affect others, and people have a right to call us out when we are wrong or foolish.
For the best possible discourse and society, we should all agree to judge and be judged.
Griffin, a freshman journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.