It’s been said that there are no stupid questions. Well, we know that not to be true. There are plenty of them, and no short supply of people to ask them. What we ought to do is look at why the question is asked. What are the motivations behind them. Often enough, the reasons are to taunt, to be facetious, or to just plain play the devil’s advocate.
Sometimes, however, they are asked out of either being misinformed about a topic or being ignorant regarding the facts. Not willfully ignorant, mind you. Just unaware. Berating someone over the act of asking a question because ‘they should know better‘ is no excuse, either. All of us, at one point or another, have been enlightened on something.
We need to ask ourselves:
- How many of us can remember when we were ignorant about the LGBT community?
- How many of us can remember when we were ignorant about reproductive rights?
- How many of us can remember when we were ignorant about other belief systems?
- How many of us can remember when we were ignorant about equality for women?
At one point or another, most of us needed to be educated about these issues because we were indoctrinated to think and understand differently than we do now.
An example I will use is the recent kerfuffle about an attendee at a secular event asking what an African-American secular organization was doing to help combat black-on-black crime. Without getting into the gory details or naming names, one individual (whom I happen to like and have respect for) had given a verbal beat-down to the individual asking the question on the grounds that it was a racist query.
Here’s the problem with that…
It was a good question. Why? Because the right-wing, conservative media has brainwashed a huge swath of general public that there is an epidemic of black-on-black crime, and that all most of the black community does is go around killing other blacks.
To make matters worse, they have accompanied their propaganda with skewed statistics, unreported demographic information, horrible reporting, and yellow journalism.
That doesn’t change the fact that many people believe it to be true.
Instead of treating the questioner like a racist, or with having racist motivations, or concluding that the person should have known better, they should have been educated.
I was one of those people, many years ago, who thought as the questioner did. However, someone from the African-American community took the time to sit with me and explain the facts, show me the data and tell me why the right-wing, conservative media was doing this. All in the matter of one afternoon.
Just my two cents…