Earlier today, on the Book of Faces, a friend of a friend commented:
"In this country, we desperately need a mature, reasoned discussion about..."
About what doesn't really matter. What I want to talk about is my reaction to that particular phrase: "mature, reasoned discussion".
When I saw that, I had to stop and take a step back. My friend has a fine, upstanding, intelligent, insightful group of folks that participate in and comment on various posts. I had no reason to believe that this individual meant anything by their comment except that they think we need to have a... well. a mature, reasoned discussion about that particular topic.
That's what the words mean.
That's what I read.
What I heard was: "Shut up", he explained.
Which pretty much stopped me in my tracks, because that is not the sort of reaction I am used to having in that context. I was struck by just how negatively that phrase impacted me. I had a very visceral, gut level, negative reaction to those words. I had to do a mental reset to keep it from coloring my opinion of the comment.
Thinking about it, I am pretty sure that it comes from wading deep into 2A discussions online recently. There, use of that particular phrase (or close variations) almost seems to be a talking point. I am pretty sure that you know the general conversational template:
Person #1: "Why can't we just enact reasonable gun control laws?!?!?"Person #2: [explanation of current gun control laws]Person #3: [discussion of problems enforcing current laws]Person #4: [points out problems with gun control legislation du jour]Person #1: "What we really need is a mature, reasoned discussion..."
When Person #1 hauls out the "mature, reasoned discussion" phrase, what they are implying - whether they actually mean to do so or not - is that they do not consider anything proceeding their comment to be mature or reasoned. Which says something about their opinion of the previous commenters. More to the point, since they have decided those comments are neither mature nor reasoned, then they cannot be part of the discussion.
It is an insulting, dismissive phrase.
In other words... "Shut up", he explained.