When discussion is shut down

Media team editor describes opinion and experience with current social and political divide

Speaking out and listening in seem to have fallen out of fashion in a divided country.

The Mercury News

Speaking out and listening in seem to have fallen out of fashion in a divided country.

If you told me a year ago, I would eventually become as politically skeptical as I am now, I would have laughed at you. As a freshman and sophomore, I grew to believe my beliefs were grounded and unchanging, and I refused to look at anything else that differed.

Now that ideology has changed, as I decided in order for me to be an upstanding member of society, I would need to be informed on all arguments. 

I started watching people from both sides of the coin and learned to agree with people I never thought I would.

Everyone I watched was controversial because there’s absolutely no one involved in politics that isn’t.

However, I don’t think I started viewing anyone as contentious as conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.

I disagree with him on some things, but you can never agree with someone 100 percent of the time. I chose to listen to him for the sake of understanding and have learned to respect his beliefs, despite how much they differ from mine.

I discovered the idea of respecting someone’s opinion regardless of your own is a foreign concept nowadays.

A few weeks ago, I watched a video of Shapiro’s speech at Wisconsin University, and it didn’t take long at all for things to get out of hand. 

Ten minutes in, people started screaming the words “shame” and “safety” at him. They disrupted not only his speech but people who were simply there to listen. 

Fast forward, and the protesters stand in front of him, yelling at him and those who supported him. 

The entire thing contributed to my realization on how divided we’ve become. 

As someone who made it a point to lend an ear to everyone who wants me to listen, it baffles me when so many people refuse to let others speak about something on which they have a different opinion.

Whatever happened to being tolerant? Right now, it seems we’re far from it.

Progressives used to say, ‘I may disagree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.’ Not anymore.

— Dave Rubin

A video called “Why I Left the Left”  by liberal commentator Dave Rubin explored the idea of how we as a society define the word “progressive.”

“These days the meaning of the word progressive has changed,” Rubin said. “Progressives used to say, ‘I may disagree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.’ Not anymore.”

I couldn’t agree with him more. America was built on the idea of freedom, and as time goes on, that is becoming less and less apparent. 

Despite “politically incorrect” opinions of Shapiro, political commentators Candace Owens and Steven Crowder and psychologist Jordan Peterson, the First Amendment protects their right to say it.

America is one of the few countries that allows citizens to say what they want, unless it incites violence or mass hysteria. Of course, that idea is pretty much gone, and even asking questions is looked down upon.

We have to have conversations with each other, and we don’t penalize people for engaging in the conversation.”

— Ben Shapiro

One thing that caused me to look at the “other side” of the argument was the fact that whenever I asked a question that was deemed unnecessary or wrong to ask, I was shut down.

“I think the real solution is we actually have to spend some face time with each other,” Shapiro said on the Impaulsive show. “We have to have conversations with each other, and we don’t penalize people for engaging in the conversation.”

As a teen, I know a lot of people won’t take this seriously, because I am fully aware of how most adults view young people’s opinions on politics.

If I’m not told that I’m too young to understand, I’m told that I shouldn’t be trying to.

The thing is, all I’ve ever wanted to do is understand, and in the current society I live in, I’m almost forced to remain in the dark.

I want to ask questions, and almost no one is allowing me to do so. I want to listen to controversial opinions, but they’re censored before I can hear them.

I find it disheartening that I and many others rarely have the opportunity to explore and are being ignored when we do.

America, for these reasons, is in need of some major social change. Until we live in a world where we can at least allow people to speak their minds, we’re nowhere near where we should be.