Free Speech, Kind Of

I’m really into those “Room for Debate” discussion threads on the New York Times. If you aren’t aware, it’s a feature in which NY Times picks an issue that has, well, room for debate and asks experts to write opinion articles on the subject. I especially love when the contributors passively aggressively disagree with each other. It’s so sassy.

I just read the most recent one titled “When a Generation Becomes Less Tolerant of Free Speech.”  It ties in well with the debate over political correctness.

Political correctness has so many levels, but generally, it means to be mindful and respectful of minority groups. I’m pretty much in favor of it. Like, no, white people shouldn’t use the N – word.  Stop being homophobic. Misogyny is horrible. And they’re not illegal aliens, they’re illegal immigrants. Everyone should feel free to practice whatever religion they want and not suffer hate crimes as a result.

But it’s gotten kind of…crazy. So crazy, in fact, that a discussion thread on free speech ties in well with the war on political correctness. Should the two be related? Should political correctness serve as a threat to free speech? Should an ideal with good intentions serve as a threat to a constitutional right?

People have the right to state their opinions. Everyone has the right to say insightful things as well as bigoted ones. And everyone has the right to agree or disagree with those people. I want people to say what they feel. I’m not going to agree with everyone, but that’s okay. I believe in discussion.

Reading this Room for Debate thread was pretty interesting. The first column was written by Wesleyan University student Bryan Stascavage who was attacked for his article in the school newspaper, The Wesleyan Argus, titled “Why Black Lives Matter Isn’t What You Think.”

The Argus article raises some questions about the popular Black Lives Matter movement. He offers his viewpoint on the whole thing and explains his opinion – as an opinion article should. He criticized the movement’s tactics rather than its message. He didn’t say anything terribly racist or ignorant. I think he tried to be respectful.

But still, students started “stealing and reportedly destroying newspapers around campus.”(link) People didn’t like the article, so they tried to get rid of it altogether. Then, a petition was started to defund The Wesleyan Argus. (linkSome individuals wanted to get rid of the entire publication because they disagreed with one piece of writing from it.

It seems like these people are trying to get rid of opinions that don’t match theirs. But then what – we’re going to live in a homogeneous society in which we all think the same? How are you ever going to evolve as a person if your ideals are never challenged by opposition? If there’s a flaw in your way of thinking, it should be brought to your attention when you explain your opinions to others. But if discussion never happens because people destroy the platforms for it, then what?

Not to mention that if we’re all the same, life is going to become boooooooriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing. Like, what if this continues? What if the political correctness police decide that dogs are offensive because they bark at people, and as a result, we all have to start liking cats? I don’t trust cats. They’re too quiet and it makes me feel like I’m being judged. Dogs are my dawgs because they don’t believe in formalities or politeness. They’ll straight up lick your face and wag their tails, which is what I need in my life. I don’t play games. I need crystal clear honesty.

You’ve got to let people have opinions. And you’ve got to let diversity shine. Diversity in viewpoints, but also, diversity amongst minorities.

Freedom of speech. It rocks.

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