This a column, and throughout this column are our opinions.
You’ll notice that nearly everything on this page has an opinion, whether it be a column, letter, editorial, humor piece, etc., and that’s great. Opinion pieces, unlike other “newsier” forms of content in this paper, offer first-person perspectives and personal voices that allow a more direct dialogue between writers and readers. In a perfect world, this can also make major issues–such as politics, global issues, Title IX and Bon Appétit–easier to understand and talk about. In reality, this isn’t always the case.
Opinions offend people.
I’ve met many different people throughout my life who try to avoid having opinions: a journalist in D.C. who took pride in never voting, a reporter friend who never participated in rallies or charity events she supported for fear of seeming biased, family members who refuse to talk about social issues for fear of being inappropriate, friends who think that opinions invalidate discussion, etc. By no means is this inherently harmful, but it can deter meaningful conversation by way of self-censorship.
Let’s consider the various sections of The Knox Student, for example. The News and Sports sections feature articles written with the intention of communicating information, based on facts, to the general public. Columns and letters, on the other hand, can express people’s opinions toward a specific topic, theme or event. They bring diversity to a newspaper and let people know what issues are important to readers. Even more, columns encourage productive dialogue. They’re shown in a public sphere, challenged by readers and incorporate important news of the day. Without such contribution, who would criticize the administration or demand change from peers?
We’re not denying that opinions can be offensive, bigoted and discriminatory. The media recognizes the existence of biased news sources that offer one-sided arguments meant to silence the other side, but at the same time, the solution is not silence, but deliberation.
On that note, we commend the discussion taking place between Student Senate and Alex Davis on these pages. It takes a high level of professionalism and civility to write at length about disagreements on a public platform. Though the pieces disagree, they don’t silence.
In the words of Desmond Tutu, if we allow this silencing to occur, we join the side of the oppressors.