"After I resigned from The New York Times over the summer for their hostility to free speech and open inquiry, I began to hear almost daily from such people. Their notes to me sound like missives smuggled out of a totalitarian society.
I realize that may sound hysterical. So I’d ask you to consider a few recent examples from my inbox:
“I never thought I’d practice the kind of self-censorship I now do when pitching editors, but these days I have almost no power to do otherwise,” a young journalist writes. “For woke-skeptical young writers, banishment and rejection awaits if you attempt to depart, even in minor ways, from the sacred ideology of wokeness.”
“Self-censorship is the norm, not the exception,” a student at one of the top law schools in the country wrote from his personal email because he was worried about sending it from his official school account. “I self-censor even when talking to some of my best friends for fear of word getting around.” Practically all of the faculty subscribe to the same ideology, the student went on. And so, he confessed, “I try to write exam answers that mirror their world view rather than presenting the best arguments I see.”
"Thus, it should come as no surprise that a recent national study from the Cato Institute found that 62% of Americans say they self-censor. The more conservative a group is, the more likely they are to hide their views: 52% of Democrats confess to self-censoring compared with 77% of Republicans.And of course they are afraid. In an era when people are smeared for petty things, small grievances and differences of opinion in a supposedly liberal and tolerant environment, who would dare share that they voted for a Republican?"
The more sense-or-ship I see going on, the more I share!
But I have been thinking about a different kind of sense-or-ship. Private sense-or-ship. What do I mean by that? I mean when we are silenced by loved ones - friends or family - or even when we silence ourselves.
Bringing up controversial topics with people you love is really hard. I know, because I've tried.
But even if you are brave enough to try, you are often shut down. I know because it has happened to me.
People literally would rather just avoid tough conversations than hear any information that might not fit into their worldview. They think it is better for our "Relationships".
But what I've noticed is that most people want you to be quiet and they also want to hold onto their righteous anger. They want to say, "No, thanks. I don't want to go there..." but then they also want to add on, "And I'm right anyway! You're wrong/dangerous/ignorant etc. etc."
And what I want to tell these people is that you can't do that. You can't opt out of the conversation AND maintain the stance that you are "right" and therefore everyone needs to do things your way.
So, I'm getting louder here and I'm working on having these important conversations in the 3D world too. I just need to find some willing participants.
I really feel that the most important "issue" of our time is learning to have hard conversations with people that are "different" from us. Over this past year I've lost one of my best friends because she thinks my beliefs are dangerous and irresponsible. Ironically, I had been open with her about our family's choices regarding vaccinations and we had kept our friendship alive for years in spite of our different beliefs. However, she was never willing to actually have the tough conversations about the topic even though I was ready to do so. When 2020 happened our friendship couldn't survive anymore.
I tried opening conversations with family too. I was again shut down. One family member said they didn't want to allow negatives into our relationship.
But for me, the negative is there now. I know how angry people are about people who dare to question our vaccine practices. I know because both of those people told me and reacted angrily. They say that they love and support my family and they just want to ignore the issue but is it really love and support if you have to hide and ignore parts of yourself? Is it love and support when people support government policies coercing your family into an unwanted medical intervention? Is that tolerance? Right now people like me are being portrayed in a way that is making others increasingly intolerant of me and my family. It is scary.
Consider the following passage from a great article written by a UVA student about tolerance:
"Tolerance is a two way street. We can scream all we want about the oppression of LGBTQ+ individuals at U.Va., but the fact remains — in Charlottesville, I have seen more hate and slander for reasonable conservative beliefs than I ever have about my sexuality. All struggles that come with identifying as non-cisgender and non-heterosexual are valid. However, we must start respecting everyone’s existence, as long as they are not causing harm — whether or not we agree with their political beliefs, their lifestyle or their religion. Respecting someone’s existence does not entail instantaneously slandering their character when they stray from our world view. This reaches far beyond my roommate — it is troubling behavior I see every day on Grounds. Consider this — nearly half of the electorate voted for Donald Trump. Do we really believe that half the country is comprised of genuinely hateful people?
At this University, I am beyond grateful that — as a lesbian — I am celebrated. I am deeply regretful that the celebration comes at the cost of harmful and inaccurate portrayals of my roommates, my peers and my closest friends. If the University ever wants to attain a healthy culture of intellectual growth, we must learn to tolerate each other, and stop these outrageous claims that those with valid political disagreements don't tolerate us."
I’ll close with a quote from my beautiful and wise daughter:
“I think people need to learn how to disagree better.”