One of the laziest brands of special snowflake rhetoric is the “it’s ridiculous” refrain, which usually comes up whenever someone is struggling to make a point — typically, they won’t even go into what makes it ridiculous; they’ll just say “it’s ridiculous!”, harp on that for a bit, and rest their case.
This is, itself, ridiculous. Allow me to explain why.
In declaring something worthy of ridicule, snowflakers rely on two primary means of assessment: 1) familiarity and 2) intuition.
Familiarity is an unreliable assessment tool for reasons I explored here:
The current, established approach to unfamiliar identity labels is “I haven’t heard of it, therefore it can’t be real.”
Which implies its inverse: “If it were real, I would have heard of it.”
This attitude, the attitude of automatic scorn for the unfamiliar and the tacit linking of familiarity with legitimacy, rests on the presumption that all that can exist, all that does exist, is already known by the individual — that they have already gathered every single piece of valid information in the universe, that all data points have been collected, that all possibilities have been quantified, that every single variation of humanity has already been observed. It is, at its bare bones, a pompous claim of omniscience.
Rather lacking in scientific curiosity, if you ask me.
Related to the “I haven’t heard of it” objection is the “I haven’t heard of it from a source that I have faith in” objection, which is between you and your god, I guess. The idea that the sources you have faith in might, themselves, be fallible enough to lack 100% omniscience is an idea that would also, presumably, be out of the question. A little skepticism can be healthy now and then.
The second assessment tool, intuition, is closely related to familiarity but takes a slightly different approach, one akin to the criticism of the heliocentric model of the solar system.
At a time when the geocentric model was the more popular theory in European thought, supporters of the geocentric model thought the proposed heliocentric model was ridiculous. After all, the idea that the Sun revolves around the Earth is more intuitive, from where we stand. If the Earth revolved around the Sun, they asked, why can’t we feel it? Why isn’t there a great wind pushing us flat from the speed?
Sometimes intuition can fail you. As understandable as the confusion may be (there are still critics of heliocentric theory to this day), you can end up making yourself look rather foolish if you ask a series of questions and then walk away before you can get the answer.
All that makes orientation models different is that they’re more difficult to test or perform calculations on (which won’t stop folks from trying, sure, but we’ve yet to develop a veritable Feelings Cam to measure what someone’s exact pattern of attractions is). With no empirical evidence to guide us, it’s understandable that people would fall back on mere familiarity and intuition. The same has happened to me, when I think about it. Despite not being straight myself, I used to think that heterosexuality “made sense” in a way that other orientations didn’t, but now that I get exposed to different ideas and have access to less heteronormativity-drenched contexts, I’ve realized that all made heterosexuality easier to understand to me was the sheer brunt of exposure to it everywhere. I don’t understand heterosexuality on a personal level, but it’s been normalized to me through it’s constantly being presented explicitly and implicitly in media all the time, and so I wouldn’t think to ever question its legitimacy. It wasn’t so much that I understood it as that I’m used to it.
So when I think about what made bi & gay allosexuality harder for me to “understand”, it’s occurred to me that I might’ve had the same difficulty understanding straight allosexuality, too, if I weren’t forced to be so culturally numb to it. The problem with making guesses about the world based on a weak combination of personal experience and the dictate of media representation is that, thanks to the world we live in, that’s always going to leave some part of reality out of the picture. If heterosexuality is something I can barely relate to, imagine how I might’ve acted toward straight people if I was raised in a world where being either attracted to all genders or none was the universal norm. Claiming to be attracted to just one gender, specifically, might’ve looked pretty ridiculous.
And people would be able to ridicule it, but it woudn’t be ridiculous just because few people had ever before thought to give a name to an orientation that seemed inordinately specific and defied the assumptions of preexisting models in that culture. It’s possible to ridicule things that are true and make sense, like heliocentric theory, and relying on nothing but familiarity and intuition to make judgement is a strategy that assumes there can’t be anything out there in the world that you don’t yet know or understand.
Therefore, I must conclude that flakers’ use of “it’s ridiculous” indicates a disappointing failure at humility and logical thought.