Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sticks and Stones

I was going to write a blog about the Generation Gap that afflicts every generation. This was prompted by the posts I see from friends who are younger who seem to be focused on the most unusual things. I think the topics are unusual anyway, and perhaps all the emotional vitriol that goes into these posts is also unnecessary. Obviously, the younger generation feels these topics are important. I'm not negating the importance of the topics, just really how much time, energy and emotional investment put into them is something that my generation just doesn't see. On the other side of the coin, there are things my generation gets bent out of shape about that the younger generation just doesn't get. Usually, comments about the topics degrade from discussion to angry disagreements.
Image by Stuart Miles

It's the arguing that I will address today. More and more in social media and even on the "news" there seems to be more arguing than discussing. There is nothing wrong with opposing opinions, ideologies, or positions. In fact, our first right is the freedom of speech. We have the RIGHT to say what is on our minds and in our hearts. There are a few caveats that go with that. We have the RESPONSIBILITY not to created havoc with out speech. We cannot shout "fire" in a crowded auditorium as this will cause panic and people can get hurt. Also, we cannot use our language to incite violence or persecution against a person or group.

But, it seems that lately whenever there are two opposing opinions being presented, the discussion devolves into an argument wherein one side will accuse the other side of hate speech, or racial discrimination, or gender discrimination, or sexual orientation discrimination, or religious hegemony and then the other side will protest and say it's position is being stifled and they are victims are discriminatory tactics. Sigh. What all that is two 6-year olds saying "nuh-huh" and "ya-huh" until they storm off mad at each other without any actual listening, learning, discussing and debating going on.

Really, our freedom of speech does give us the RIGHT to say what we want to say provided with do so with RESPONSIBILITY. With that right comes the chance that someone will say something we disagree with. We might even get our feelings hurt. Boo hoo. And this is the important thing - HURT FEELINGS AND DISAGREEMENT IS NOT HATE SPEECH. So, everyone just needs to calm down. Let's put the skills of debate back into our classrooms. Let's try listening to the other opinion (even if it's stupid), and let's use facts to back up our point, not emotion.

One final word. Eliminate "Politically Correct" language. It muddies the waters and makes it impossible to actually communicate using real words and real language that have real definitions. And if your feelings get hurt remember, "sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you."

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