False equivalence has been showing up a lot this election year. It happens whenever one of your friends thinks you're taking things too far.
Most people want to be amenable to everyone. In politics - since we inevitably know that we're going to have to find solutions with people who have fundamentally different beliefs than we do - we tend to lean toward burying the hatchet whenever things get too heated.
How many times have you heard, "It's a free country," or, worse, "I'm entitled to my opinion and saying yours is more right than mine makes you just as bad as [insert deplorable fascist, violent racist group from some random point in history, i.e. the Nazis or the KKK].
False equivalence happens when you say something that sounds too extreme to someone and they call it the worst thing in the world and wrongly label you an oppressor. There's an implication that everything works both ways but here's the thing - it doesn't.
There's that word again.
The thing about opinions
Opinions that are well-formed are based on information that is sound and factual. Opinions that are not well-informed are not only plentiful but illogical.
People want to say hate is hate and prejudice is prejudice and all of the above is ugly no matter how justified it is. This is how we start believing that white people can experience racism (everyone has that one friend who always says, "But what about the Irish?! It's racist to not include them!"). This aversion to confrontation creates a culture of people who think any heat or intensity of opinion makes someone inherently wrong.
Tone policing is a byproduct of this culture. It's one of the main reasons people turn away from movements like Black Lives Matter; "Oh, I agree with them, but they're just so angry and I don't like how they do things."
I'm pretty sure if you were systematically oppressed, ignored and constantly had people telling you that your experience with racism isn't real because slavery is gone, you'd be pissed, too. Check out this article for a great comic on why tone policing is such a huge problem. If you agree with someone, just agree with them.
The second problem is that it invites people to believe that they can hide behind a shield of opinion and that this idea is somehow fundamental to American freedom. I'm talking about the 1st Amendment.
This is how everyone is invited to believe they are or can be oppressed. Whenever someone is told their opinion is wrong, they try to put up this shield of epic DEMOCRACY by labeling you undemocratic, dogmatic and infringing upon their rights, i.e. the worst kind of oppressor ever.
Insert eye roll here, please.
Similarly to how you have your right to your opinion, someone else has the right to call you out on your bullshit. That doesn't infringe on your rights; it's just showing what information in the world you choose to listen to, whether it's misinformation or not. And that's your responsibility.
Changing minds is hard. I'm not saying that meeting hate and anger with more anger will productively change the world. I grew up close enough to Washington, D.C. to know how difficult it is to change things in politics. Even when you're not dealing with the differences of misguided opinions or the fear that people of color are coming into this country and somehow ruining the white people way of life (hint: that's not what's happening at all), there's a lot of red tape.
What I am saying is that the next time someone tries to defend their right to say you're going to hell for being queer or that you need to be deported from this country because you're sucking up the welfare and stealing resources from working-class white families, even if you don't have the safety of privilege to do something about it, you are right and they are wrong. This is the unapologetic truth. Not everything goes both ways and knowing that and being secure in that doesn't make you some ideological fascist.