Sharp criticism sometimes stifles discussion

There is a fine line between freedom of expression and (tolerance of) discriminatory language and beliefs: have we found it?

Dear Editor,

I recently read an article on TheIndependent.ca called “#notallwhitepeople” (June 12). The author compares the Twitter hashtag with another, #notallmen, and then asserts “…that when men use such phrases it closes off the discussion…”

It seems to be that in this new age of hyper social justice and intolerance of “intolerance”, any expression that deviates from what seems to be the majority view is demonized. Often we see opposition being brushed aside, disagreement being termed as hate, and those who disagree being accused of bigotry.

It is quite simply unfair to say that the statements from within these hashtags, “closes off the discussion”. Even if used alone without deeper engagement, it does the exact opposite, it allows the discussion to broaden and deepen. By allowing other perspectives to balance the argument those involved and spectating are able to better formulate their own opinions about the subject matter. I see these hashtags as simple factual reminders that the issues of racism and violence against women, whether the causes are systemic or isolated, are complex and need deep thought.

To begin to censor and demonize any perspective does exactly what the author is asserting using them does: “closes off the discussion”. In many ways it turns what would be a productive discussion into one sided propaganda. It is simple freedom of expression. Without the ability to express our views, regardless of which side of the fence they fall, we will lose a little of what makes us human, our ability to think for ourselves.

Brian T. O. Davis / Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL

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