No, my friends, I am afraid they do not.
I can’t stop what goes on in your head (note the Terry Pratchett quote in the side bar), but I only have a responsibility (ie. my side of the contract regarding what belongs to you by right) to consider what comes out of your mouth (or what you write) on the basis of its rationality and its connection with reality.
I also have the right to disagree with your opinion and to engage with it argumentatively. However, this right also exists only to the extent that my disagreement and argument are based on objective reality and rational argument.
In saying this, I do not deny that there are statements – true statements even – which may have nothing to do with rationality or objectivity – such as the statement “I love my wife”. But I would hardly regard my love for my wife as an “opinion”.
But perhaps the problem lies with what people understand an “opinion” to be. It is my understanding that an opinion is a view of a matter that a person has formed in their own minds on the basis of their own thought and experience. Given this, it should be obvious that I entirely disagree with the Wikipedia definition of “opinion”:
An opinion is a person’s ideas and thoughts towards something which it is either impossible to verify the truth of, or the truth of which is thought unimportant to the person.
Nor is it my “opinion” that this definition, from The Free Dictionary, is correct:
1. A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof.
I mean, consider this short thought experiment. I say that the world is round. You assert that, in your opinion, it is flat. Now your assertion would indeed be “a belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof”, however, my assertion that the earth is flat is also “my opinion” – with the difference that it is based on observable objective reality and rational deduction.
So, in fact, all that can be said for the definition of an “opinion” is that it is a person’s “ideas or thoughts about a matter” or “a belief or conclusion held with confidence” by a person. The degree to which I am honour bound to respect your “right” to hold any given opinion is precisely the degree to which it is possible “to verify the truth” of it, that is, the degree to which it may be substantiated “by positive knowledge or proof”.
P.S. If you want me to respect your “right” to hold any given opinion, then you have to be ready to try to convince me of it. Do not expect me to respect your opinion if all you can say is: “That’s my opinion, and I don’t have to defend it.”
P.P.S. Always remembering, of course, that on this blog everyone has a right to MY opinion.