This morning I read an op-ed written by the daughter of someone famous. She began the piece with an anecdote from her childhood and built her argument from there. The piece was well written, thoughtful, and I believed, completely appropriate.

Once again I made the mistake of reading the comments.

While most people addressed the article’s content, several chose to attack the writer. What I found particularly disappointing was that they completely discounted her opinion–and in some cases the woman herself–simply because of her father. Most of their arguments followed this logic:

  • I didn’t like your father [insert varying levels of vitriol]. Because you are his daughter, you must be equally distasteful to me. *OR*
  • Your father was a jerk. You used an example from your childhood that involved him, so your whole argument is therefore invalid.

Let me emphasize one thing first: this article was not about the woman’s father. She wrote about her–HER!–position on an issue of current relevance.

Clearly not everyone will agree with her, but can’t we find better arguments than those that start with something akin to “your daddy…?” Isn’t this woman entitled to have an identity of her own, with her own thoughts, feelings, and opinions? She’s an adult, older than I am by almost two decades. She has been outspoken all her life, often famously opposing her father. (How’s that for irony?) Not only does she think and feel for herself, but she also has the right to express those thoughts and feelings. Debate her all you want, just do it on the merits of her argument.

And while I’m miffed about this because of an expression of disagreement, it also works the other way. Neither should her position be automatically accepted because of her parentage. Nor should anyone’s.

I’m not like my dad, yet I am like my dad.

I’m not like my mom, yet I am like my mom.

I may be the product of my upbringing, but sometimes I am who I am because of it, and sometimes in spite of it. I’ve also been influenced by a whole host of other factors and continue to be every. single. day. And as much as I want my kids to think like me, they have their own opinions, too. We all do.

Let’s stop picking people apart for things they can’t control. Let’s stop decrying positions because of factors other than the merits of the argument or the validity of the underlying issue. Let’s stop devaluing people when it’s their argument we don’t like. Really, let’s just stop devaluing people.

The opinions expressed within this content are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of her parents or their affiliates. Except when they do.

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