Free Exchange of Ideas…

Can I just ask… what the heck happened?

When I first published my work, I got a lot of comments from readers, both positive and negative. Divinity in particular got positive and negative comments from die-hard Christians and atheists, and I don’t understand the negativity.

I certainly can’t speak for the rest of the world, so if it’s different outside of the U.S. PLEASE let me know.

I don’t mind disagreeing with my views, in fact, I welcome it! I love it when someone posts a comment on Facebook, here, or on my other pages and tells me that they disagree with my message or my assessment of a certain situation or event. I always enjoy hearing about it from the other person’s perspective and then engaging their talking points. That’s fine…

What’s not fine is when people start calling you names or accuse you of racial bigotry. I don’t get that. Nowhere have I ever used racial slurs in anything I’ve written (unless you count sharpy, which many of my characters call elves), nor have I ever said anything about a specific ethnicity or religion that would portray everyone in any of those groups in a negative light.

I’ll provide a perfect example. The other day I was on a newspaper’s website and one person mentioned on the message board that he supported voter ID laws. The next comment accused him of being racist. How is requiring all citizens to prove their citizens racist? Another comment said that it makes it more difficult for poor people to vote. That is a credible argument, but racist? Is the person making that comment inferring that all poor people are minorities, or that the majority of certain minorities are poor? Isn’t the assumption of racism, actually racism itself?

Anyway, I don’t want to delve into a conversation of semantics, so let me get back on point. Why just sit there, yell and scream, and accuse the person of being racist? Why get mad at that person’s viewpoint? What good does that do? Why not instead of resorting to anger, threats, or childish name-calling, you address that person’s talking points. Tell that person why you think they’re wrong and then hear their arguments. You might learn something and they might actually gain some knowledge in the process too. Why is that not a better solution?

By resorting to childish name-calling, you make yourself look less intelligent.

By resorting to misogyny, you make yourself out to look hateful.

By resorting to inserting race or ethnicity into an argument, you make yourself out to be hateful, you water-down justified accusations of racism, and you spit on everyone who actually suffered from racism and fought for equal rights.

All of this takes a negative toll on society. It get’s to the point where Freedom of Expression and Speech take a back seat to people’s’ sensitivity. The problem is that people don’t see the damage being done by this. Someone showing a different perspective on things, as long as it’s factual and historically accurate, should not be met with scorn. Their talking points should be addressed.

Seriously, why get mad? Why break off contact or remove someone from your contact list? Why resort to stupidity? If someone’s opinion truly upsets you, ignore it. Unless they’re specifically saying it to insult you or a group you’re apart of, why get mad? Why not respond and tell them why you think they’re wrong?

All you’re doing is making it more difficult for someone to express their opinions or their views. By accusing someone who expresses a viewpoint of racial, religious, or ethnic bigotry where none was intended or implied, or calling them names, all you’re doing is making another person fear how they’re going to be portrayed by others, including their employers and family, and thus are making it harder for them to put their views to paper, and that’s a terrible, awful thing to do, when the Free Exchange of Ideas is one of the most important freedoms anyone has.

I really don’t want to spend too much time on this, so I’m going to close with a quote from a TV show I loved as a child:

With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably… The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged. 

P.S. Don’t be afraid to post if you think I missed something or disagree, as I said above, I welcome other viewpoints and would love to address them.

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14 thoughts on “Free Exchange of Ideas…

  1. jaffakintigh says:

    I’m most curious as t what precipitated this post. As for the argument on Voter ID Laws, the history on those extends back to the segregationist days as a means of disallowing African-Americans the right to vote. Extra hurdles were thrown in the way knowing that any of those steps could then be bogged down “administratively” to keep someone out of the voting booth. Clearly, this is racist as it is institutional in scope. Pointing out that these currently-proposed laws are potentially racist could be an example of prejudice, an assumption based on race. Pointing it out is not “also racist”, in that it is not a institutionalized form of differentiated treatment as the laws themselves may perpetuate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • StCyril says:

      Thanks for the post Jaffakintigh. So this post was precipitated both by reactions to my story, Divinity, but also to a post one of my friends made on facebook about drug abuse. It was a fairly benign post, but someone on her timeline who was a recovering addict took offense.

      To your point about voter ID laws. During segregationist times, I absolutely agree that it had everything to do with race. That’s absolutely true.
      However, this is a different time and a different place. Given voter fraud cases that have popped up from time to time, the call for some sort of proof of citizenship is understandable.
      Past histories of laws put forth by politicians with other motives, in my mind, isn’t justification for assuming racism today.
      In playing devils advocate, I could point out that the people in Washington who are pushing back against voter ID laws, are also the ones who want higher taxes, fees, and insurances on people applying for gun licenses. Would that not also be considered racist by this logic?
      Again, let me clarify that I’m not in favor of voter ID laws because, as has been pointed out, it places an extra burden on the poor. This was just a good example for me to use.

      Anyway, thank you so much for you thoughts on this! It’s always good to get another perspective, and good point with the historical context, that does make more sense as to why someone could see it as racist, even if I don’t agree with it being that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you. You didn’t deserve those kinds of comments. No one does, especially in this line of work. As long as no one is deliberately trying to degrade something. People can’t seem to agree to disagree. And try to push their views and beliefs on to others. This is a shame.

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  3. I usually find it those who peddle bigoted views are the ones who get upset and resort to name calling when you disagree with them. I assume they feel they have seen the light and can’t understand anyone who disagrees with them. In your example I agree it wasn’t a racist comment, but I do think we should all challenge (politely) racist and bigoted views. If we don’t then they can become fact rather than opinion.

    Your post has made me intrigued about your book Divinity. Is it available on Kindle?

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    • StCyril says:

      Eric, great post! I absolutely agree with you.
      As for Divinity, it is indeed. The book deals with religious stereotypes and norms during the 1500s. One of the main things that has had people up in arms are the criticisms of the Church, the Protestant movement, and the death toll that came as a result.
      http://www.amazon.com/Divinity-James-Harrington-ebook/dp/B00QZ282MU/ref=sr_1_7_twi_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426272697&sr=1-7&keywords=Divinity

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      • That sound s worth a look I’ve had an interesting religious journey myself plus like you I’ve studied history

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      • StCyril says:

        A religious journey, you say? I’m always intrigued to hear about other people’s experiences. In college I had a massive crisis of faith and wound up wandering around for a while before finally coming to terms with faith and accepted what I could believe to be true.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was born into a cult the exclusive brethren, my parents left it when I was young. We joined the free brethren, free being a bit misleading they are fundermentalist. In my teens we joined an evangelical church. I stayed in that church until my 30’s the rest of my family moved away. As I became more of a political liberal I was unhappy with the bigotry. I then started my degree mainly in ancient history which opened my eyes to the problems with bible. I work with special needs children and when I qualified as teacher my first class had a student who’s life was ruined before he had a chance I think that finally killed my believe in God. I’m now an atheist but still have Christian friends. I find other people’s beliefs interesting even if I can’t share them. I hope this makes sense it’s been a long week and I’ve had 2 cosmos and starting on a nice burgundy!

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      • StCyril says:

        LOL Nice, yeah that makes perfect sense. For me, I’m not an atheist, I was born Catholic, and I guess I still consider myself to be one, but if so, I’m a radical because I do tend to question everything about the Church, and even have my own way of practicing faith while remaining in the confines of that religion… if that even makes sense.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I find Catholicism fascinating, an organisation set up to control the populous yet despite that has managed produce great men and women who have change the world for the better. It’s such a shame you live in America I would love to take you out for a drink to discus this further.

    Liked by 3 people

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