Maybe it Shouldn't go into my Backyard?

Here's a post of mine that I quite liked. I submitted it to the Toronto Skyscraper Forum:

I have never been comfortable with the term "NIMBY" (Not In My Back Yard). Too often, the term is used as non-intellectual shorthand to dismiss the valid concerns of people opposed to something. Like "politically correct", it frees the user from actually having to think about what the opponent is saying, and construct a rational counterargument.

I find it odd that in a nation that supposedly values property rights more than any other country in the world, except the United States, we'd so quick put down attempts by average citizens to protect their homes. Most people accused of NIMBY are as normal as the ones doing the accusing. Indeed, reverse the roles, and many who deride NIMBYism rush to mobilize their neighbours in some serious NIMBY action.

I realize that people often fear change irrationally. There are numerous cases where projects of clear benefit have had their possible impacts horribly exaggerated. Too often, however, people don't stop to consider whether a project really has enough merit for the many to override the property rights of a few. It is easier to dismiss the opposition as NIMBY. Many Torontonians fought against the construction of the Spadina Expressway, whose negative impacts and questionable merits were well documented. Did the proponents of the Spadina Expressway engage in a rational political debate on the merits of the plan? Most did not. As an acronym, NIMBY has been so overused that it has stopped to have any meaning.

Instead of dismissing opposition with the word "NIMBY", why not put forward the benefits of the proposal, and weigh them against the concerns of the opponents. Why not take the time to debate rationally and honestly? Who knows: perhaps by constructing an intelligent defence, you could win the opponents to your side. Or perhaps the project could be improved by addressing some of the concerns raised. Or perhaps the project really wasn't such a good idea to begin with.

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