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Salvo 06.17.2022 5 minutes

Difficult Conversations

3D Rendering, Robots speaking no evil, hearing no evil, seeing no evil

An AI bot conducts a thoughtless experiment.

It would be interesting to hear a conversation between people with different political opinions. However, since these conversations are no longer possible, we must create one artificially, in a laboratory environment.

Since one side will not listen to the other because of built-in moral superiority and knowledge that they are on “the right side of history,” this “lab created” fake talk will necessarily be contentious, abrasive, and intolerant.

The parameters of the conversation must be agreed upon in advance. If the limits are not strictly defined, then one side (not saying who but you know who) will not participate as the conversation could become transphobic. That side “won’t be part of or participate in a narrative that persecutes, injures, and murders trans people.”

Convening the fake conversation

I try to explain that to fake a real conversation, there must be open debate and spontaneous discourse to shed light upon and, it is hoped, find commonalities through the process of persuasion.

But I am informed that there are “things” that are not open to “debate” and are already proven “facts,” including “systemic transphobia, systemic white supremacy, and the persecution of trans people.”

I explain that we haven’t determined which subjects this simulated conversation will cover yet.

I am interrupted and asked, “Then what is the point of this discussion? It’s already sounding racist!”

I respond that we seek to discover if two opposing viewpoints can reach, at the very least, a place where there is no accusation of immorality, no name calling, and no demonizing of the other side.

I am told that there must be some hidden agenda in this “thought experiment” of a conversation because “there can be no middle ground or commonality when it comes to trans rights and systemic transphobia and to suggest otherwise is hateful and discriminatory to trans people.”

I am told that the “assumption of neutrality or consensus is a form of violence against trans lives.”

I say again as patiently as I can that we haven’t picked any topics of discussion yet.

This has a slight calming effect as I am no longer being screamed at.

I then list some of the potential subjects to be debated: golf, woke gardening, steeplechase, air conditioning,

I am informed that trans women are woman and have no advantage over other people who were born female and should be allowed to participate in women’s sports and that bone density doesn’t matter as long as they are taking the right hormones.

I propose that this question is one of the subjects that could be debated in our fake discussion.

I am then told, “it is not up for discussion, fake or otherwise, because it’s already a proven fact.”

(This is where I try to sneak one in)

“A proven fact? Proven how?”

“It just is,” I am told. “If a person says they are a woman inside, we need to respect it and not hurt their feelings.”

“So this is more about feelings? How one feels determines the facts and our view of the world must somehow be obliging with that person’s feelings?”

At this point I am called a transphobe. A “huge transphobe” in fact and definitely a racist. I try to explain that it wasn’t me who brought it up. But it is of no use.

The yelling continues. “Tall people have advantages over short people in basketball! Short people have advantages over tall people in horse racing!”

“You’re talking about fairness. So life isn’t fair,” I say. “Should we be spending all our time trying to make life more fair? And what would that world look like?”

It is at this point that the fake person having the fake conversation gets up and leaves the fake room.

What is the takeaway?

What did we learn? We learned that marginalized groups must be protected even if they are not under attack. Especially when they are not under attack. For it is when they are not under attack that they are at their most vulnerable.

We also learned that conversations, even faked ones, can still get heated when one side comes into the fake conversation with preconceived notions of the other side and basically thinks they’re all “A-holes.”

While I am disappointed that we weren’t able to find any middle ground or agreement on any issues, I am satisfied that two very divergent sides were able to sit in a fake room and at least attempt to have a fake conversation.

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