I once got into a conversation with this female at work I didn’t know very well. These types of things tend to be pleasant more times than not, giving me an opportunity to learn a little about the people with whom I work but in this case the conversation took a weird turn. Let me preface this by saying as a rule I don’t like discussing religion or political viewpoints with people I know in real life unless I’m certain they can handle dissent and most of them can’t. Attack my viewpoint and I will feel free to verbally dismantle your religious and political viewpoint and hand the whole thing right back to you, in pieces of course. Not with insults or ad hominem attacks, of course, but with pure logic. I don’t like to do so with people I know in real life, however, because I’d rather avoid unpleasantness when at all possible.
Anyway, back to the conversation. This girl, upon learning that I was studying Arabic, asked “Why are you studying Arabic? Are you trying to be Muslim or something?”
Setting aside my aforementioned preference of not discussing religion, there were so many things wrong with her question I didn’t even know where to begin. I blinked a couple of times, then gave a response that had nothing to do with her original question. This was not designed to make her think I was answering her question, it was a clear indicator (from my viewpoint at least) that I wasn’t going to answer the question. It didn’t take, however, and she again asked me the same question. Again I gave her a response that was not an answer to her question.
As a rule I do not lie to people unless you are panhandling in which case I will always answer that I don’t have any money because there is no cool way to beat a hobo to death in an attempted mugging. I do, however, reserve the right to not answer intrusive questions or even questions which are phrased awkwardly, on general principle. I owe no one any explanations. I choose to speak or not as a matter of free will.