Opinion Exclusivity – Protected Classes

By: Luke Harmuth

There is a phenomenon happening where people say “I as a <insert class here>, have <insert opinion>”. 

This assumes the heightened legitimacy of the opinion based on the perceived class of the individual. This is commonly used in discussions relating to topics and issues surrounding protected classes. A famous sentiment that wraps up the concept is abortion and the ongoing debate that the subject provokes. Saying to a man “You wouldn’t understand my position because you aren’t a member of my gender” (a protected class, at least if you’re a woman or LGBT). Saying this includes the assumption that your opinion is automatically more correct in relation to the opposing one, otherwise, you would not have included the phrase “As a…” in the statement. 

How does this threaten future Church progress? Since the governing body of the Church is run by quorums of men, it is easy for someone to say “They cannot tell us what to do because they are not a representation of us.”

However, to steelman this position, you do want people of your community to represent your voice. This is why we set up a republic, and why we generally prefer members of our own faith to clarify our beliefs to others in order to prevent misconstruction. 

To steelman, the other side, say a black conservative and a white leftist were in a debate, and the black conservative pulled the “As a black man…” card, would the white leftist have to concede their ground on the matter simply because they do not share the same status as a perceived victimized class? 

Though this phenomenon happened as a response to the rise of social justice ideology (in the Marxist sense where your class is your primary defining trait), it has been adopted by persons on the right. A member of this organization once entertained the notion of debating in the BYU Republicans V. Democrats debate in 2019, but was turned down because they were not a member of the protected class for which the subject was about. 

Danger: do not assume your opinion is more valid than another by virtue of simply being a member of a protected class. This builds the sentiment in you that you do not have to listen with as much dedication to the opposing person’s statements because they do not share your status. It’s a defense mechanism, not a contention. Though probably well-meaning, it is probably a product of pride.

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