Thursday, June 23, 2016

Two Interpretations of I Don't Care About Your...

Pursuant to a conversation on Facebook (friendly, not an argument) about this graphic:

When I say I "don't care" about your gender or orientation, I mean that I'm not threatened (or disturbed, or even mildly bothered) by it. Some of the people that I know, either online or in person, are various flavors and combinations of gay, trans, Muslim, Black, Hispanic, immigrant, etc. etc. etc. None of those... identities? Is that the word I want? ...none of them trouble me. I will not measure -- or make assumptions about -- your character/value/moral worth/etc. on the basis of any of those things. That kind of "I don't care about..." is, I think, basically a good thing.

But there *is* another kind of "I don't care about..." which asserts something more along the lines of "I don't believe that we should think in those terms" or "I don't acknowledge those meaningless labels". And that kind of "I don't care about..." *is* a problem. It tries to erase fundamental parts of people's identities, and it tries to ignore some very important (and not at all "meaningless") social distinctions, or at the very least pretend that those things don't matter.

Now, I very emphatically did not mean to endorse the second sense of "I don't care about..." in reposting this meme. But I can see why my friend would find it troubling, since it could be used to mean either one.

Those things "don't matter to me" because I'm not going to judge your worth based on any of them. However, those things *do* matter to me because they're part of who you are, and I like who you are, and if you weren't those things you wouldn't be *you*. They're important to me in the context of you, but not so much as things in themselves, if that makes any sense.

But now that I think about it, the sentiment would be more precise if we substituted "worry" for "care".

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