Students should not be afraid of ‘dangerous’ conversations

Tristan Gomez, guest column

To begin, I am all for safe spaces on campus. There are many legitimate concerns students have, and they require spaces where these concerns can be voiced without fear of social and institutional reprisals; however, “dangerous spaces” need to exist on campus as well. An example of a “dangerous space” is our socratic club.

This club is a forum for students to provide arguments for and against controversial topics. I was disheartened to see the debate being cancelled. Granted, the topic was controversial, but does that make it not worth talking about? All opinions need to be considered for rational decision making to take place.

This includes transphobic, homophobic, racist, etc. opinions. If we censor unpopular opinions what do we solve? Discriminatory opinions should be allowed in this space, provided a logical argument is given for those opinions.

“Why?” You may ask.

We cannot bar citizens from exercising their rights. We all have the right to speak freely even if it is full of hate.

The crux of my argument is if we begin censoring unpopular opinions, no matter how full of hate they are, we lose a huge piece of ourselves in the process. The loss of our freedom to express opinions will hurt us more than the worst derogatory remark.

We are protected, in a sense, while in college. We have accessible safe spaces; however,the “real-world” is a dangerous space, and it always will be. Safe spaces are few and far between, if they even exist in some areas at all. A massive spectrum of opinions exist. You won’t agree with all of them. In fact, large segments of the world population will be racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. , and we cannot stop that no matter how hard we try. I argue we shouldn’t even try to change their opinions. We won’t get anywhere by telling someone to believe in something they opposed their entire life. Due to moral relativism, no opinion is “better” than another. All opinions should be allowed to be voiced and debated in a civilized manner. We lose track of reality when we pick and choose what is acceptable. When we lose track of reality, we cannot adapt to the conditions the real world is throwing at us, and that makes us as a population, weaker. We cannot allow the future leaders of the world to enter the “real” world with the idea it will be made safe for them. We need to prepare ourselves by learning how to deconstruct arguments and being able provide counter ones. To paraphrase a quote by President Kennedy, “ask not for an easy life. Ask to have the strength to endure the one you have”. Humans have found ways to discriminate against each other since we first were able to grasp the concept of discrimination. Pandora’s box is open, and we can’t close it. All we can do is strengthen ourselves against the hate we will receive from others. Having a place to discuss controversial topics will help prepare ourselves for future struggles.

By having a civilized forum for debate, we build a common ground between antagonistic groups of people. This allows each side to see where each side is lacking which can cause one to strengthen their opinion or to change it. This is the real beauty of debating controversial topics. You can’t change a person by telling them what to think. A person changes their own opinion by seeing where the current one is faulty. Controversial debates allow groups of people to grow and learn as human beings.

Tristan Gomez is a senior in horticulture and a guest columnist for The Daily Barometer.

[email protected]

Was this article helpful?