The Diversity of...What Exactly?
My friends - there is something that has been pecking away at me for a while now. I've noticed a theme on the usual social suspects, especially Twitter: the unwillingness to engage, insulation against ideas with which one might disagree, or...STFU attitudes and comments leveled at folks who don't think "correctly." What I find most interesting...much of this seems to be emanating from those who claim to champion diversity. For example, an individual might want to reevaluate the efficacy of affirmative action or might be critical of an idea...like say, "safe spaces" on college campuses. The standard rejoinder is either to reject the validity of such critiques (with a clever meme, perhaps...) or simply to shut down criticism as bigoted "hate speech."
Dismissing or outright denying a platform for dissenting points of view does not sound particularly diverse. What's worse, it kicks away the foundation of critical thinking. You may disagree with what people say, you might even be personally offended. Yes, sometimes words and ideas make us uncomfortable. But friends...there is actual hate speech and there are ideas with which you disagree. Let's make sure we can tell the difference. Simply rejecting those who fail to march to the tune of one's personal ideology or responding to ideas with vitriolic rage Tweeting is not particularly useful. This exercise only serves to further exclude individuals from the broader conversation.
I have shut people down in the past. I used to get a kick out of doing it. Guilty as charged. But given the chance for another shot I would try to understand their positions and see ideas from their perspectives. I stated some time ago that the hallmark of my profession is critical thinking and analysis. And if my years of experience as a teacher has taught me anything, it is to practice what I preach. I have not always been perfect, but I am willing to admit when the time has come to revise my thinking.
If equality is what we really want, then diversity of thought is a good thing - freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and dissimilar opinion coupled with reasonable debate and discussion will only get us closer to that goal. If we dial down the rage for a minute and just listen to each other...We might just find that we have more in common than we think.