Columns / Discourse / February 11, 2015

Columnist addresses dissenters: Disagreement fuels discourse

Do you realize how stupid you look writing these columns? There was a whole long thing on Yik Yak about you and your closed mind. Why don’t you just stop and get educated?

Wow, those are some fighting words. Well, I suppose I will address your possibly rhetorical questions one at a time, though I’m fairly sure their answers are relevant to each other.

First of all, yes: I do realize how stupid I look writing these columns. I realize that hardly anyone interested in an argument with me actually takes the time to read them, yet everybody is quick to criticize me. People are even quicker to call me things like “racist” or “sexist.” I realize how this column makes me look to such a liberal, self-proclaimed “liberal and free-minded” campus, and yet I do not care. I don’t care because in order to form one’s own opinions, one should first take the time to consider all viewpoints.

I do not care because those who are willing to have real and respectful conversations with me will not begin the conversation with name-calling. I don’t care because I have been given the opportunity to give a voice to conservatives on campus. How stupid does that sound? Pretty damn stupid, if you ask me. Only Yik Yak knows the real answers, obviously.

As for “getting educated,” if I said I wasn’t, I would be a liar. Each day I learn new things and take in new points of view. Each day I go to class and take in new information that will someday further me in a real world. I often take the time to read online newspapers and science journals. I suppose that isn’t education, in your eyes, because my opinions still differ from yours, and I’ve spent so many columns discussing how frustrating that is that I’m not wasting any more space on it.

To educate you in turn, I wish I could show you all the emails of support from alumni, students and faculty alike that are proud of what I am writing about and proud that I am able to be so bold and unapologetic for my opinions, but, like the person that asked this question, those are anonymous. There are more conservative opinions on this campus than you realize; the difference between those and me are very slim, but most of it has to do with labels.

I could walk around calling myself something else, like a libertarian or a moderate or even a Democrat, but it wouldn’t change my opinions. A person’s label should not define their beliefs. Sure, you may want to select one that you feel embodies all that you support and advocate, but that word may mean something else to someone else.

Get educated: sit down with someone that you know disagrees with you and just talk. Don’t name-call, don’t belittle, don’t even get upset or emotional. Just listen, speak when it is your turn to speak, and listen some more. That goes for people on both sides of the line. You will be surprised what you actually learn and what you take away from the conversation. Your beliefs may not change, but you most likely picked up another perspective that you didn’t have before.

In other news, there’s a bill in Illinois set to appear in the state’s House of Representatives for the legalization of marijuana…

I told you it would get here eventually.

Got a question for me?

Shannon Caveny

Tags:  Conservative dissent education liberal name calling open-minded Yik Yak

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