Wait! Before you rush to the comment section to expel your disdain at this article’s title, try reading what I have to say, for it might provide you with a new perspective. See, that’s the beauty of opinions: you have the right to express yourself, to make your thoughts a matter of importance in this world, giving one the ability to leave an impression on others.
You’re not necessarily attempting to indoctrinate readers with your agenda, although this darker side of opinion has been used in the past, you are leaving them with a new view to contemplate. It’s this type of free interaction that keeps nations like ours from falling into the abyss of ignorance, and that is why as I reflect on my work over the past year, it is further solidified that the crucial glue that holds our society together, that must never be neglected or attacked, are opinions.
I’m thanking Donald Trump because his controversial Mexican border wall idea was the perfect example of when free speech and publication becomes the shield and sword of the common individual. For my first article, I wrote about such a contentious topic and shared a stance that otherwise would have withered away inside me. As I pursued other topics I realized that I wasn’t trying to change the views of others; my job was to make them think, to see all sides of an argument.
So, when a colleague of mine wrote their opinion on a particularly vexed subject and a torrent of angry responses wished to see the article removed or never made, I felt incredibly embarrassed for our society.
The issue doesn’t lie with being upset with the article, that is entirely permitted under our right to free speech, but to wish to effectively censor someone else for making you uncomfortable, that is where I draw the line. The writer is protected under the first amendment to convey their voice, so long as they are not threatening anyone or their rights. Not only was the piece fair, but it was thought-provoking, setting the comment section ablaze with people trying to contemplate the writer’s message.
Yes, had the article remained unpublished, the heated battleground that was the comment section may not have ensued, but then what? The topic wouldn’t have been mentioned and we wouldn’t be able to learn and grow from the actions of others. If we don’t face the fraught unknown, then we can’t learn how to overcome it, sheltering ourselves in the false comfort of inarticulacy. The comment section was also subjected to demands of censorship. While some comments had to be omitted due to obscenity, the section itself cannot be shut down.
As previously mentioned, this is where we see the impact of expression: the many processing the information given and outputting their own interpretation, which is then compared and debated with other opinions. This is the aesthetic craft of free speech, society working together to solve this controversial conundrum through arguments, agreements, and the wealth of perspectives. This chain reaction is why we, the opinion section, write our articles: tackling challenges on campus or across the globe and providing food for thought.
It should be remembered that our individual views do not represent those of the publication, and that the Foothill Dragon Press will defend our right to express ourselves, even if everyone does not agree with what we have to say.
That should be the same with the rest of society, and I know it can be horrifying to approach a controversial topic; I spent many nights hesitating to write about topics for fear of a polemical response, but imagine if I never wrote about the North Carolina bathroom law, protecting the second amendment, the PG-13 movie rating, and Trump’s controversy-filled race for the White House: so many thoughts would have been left in oblivion.
Opinions can’t be censored because they make us uncomfortable; instead every individual should fight to uphold our right, as you don’t need to be a journalist to express yourself.