As I’ve frequently said, I read a lot of blogs and commentary. Some I agree with, others not. Scott Adams of “Dilbert” fame is one who — no matter if you agree or disagree — provokes thought.
Today I wrote two blog posts about events in the news. That writing is some of my best work. You won’t see either post. And for that you can thank Jezebel.com, Gawker.com, and Salon.com.
Unfortunately, both of my posts have content that could too easily be taken out of context by the bottom-feeding parts of the media and special interest groups looking to bolster their causes. Even my standard disclaimer wouldn’t be enough in these two cases. My opinions in the two posts aren’t the least bit offensive, but out of context they would look so.
The law in my country allows free speech, but horrible people who live among us have learned to use the words of well-known folks out of context to weaponize the ignorant masses. It’s a real limit on free discussion.
I agree. More than once or twice I’ve started to write, and then realized I could never publish it because it would be wildly misunderstood, misquoted, misapplied, misconstrued, and misused.
In fact, even this post caused the “this will be misunderstood” twinge (it probably will be).
Writers know exactly what Scott refers to. As a society, we’ve lost the ability to calmly and rationally discuss ideas.
If you don’t follow the herd, you’re shouted down and attacked. Even if you’re willing to take the abuse, nobody hears the message through the shouting.
The trolls’ goal — eliminate free speech. And it works. In legal strategy it’s known as SLAPP, or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.
The simple idea — cause so much distress, throw so many tomatoes, create staggering financial hardships, label the latest blank-o-phobe, and just generally be a PITA so that nobody wants to speak.
Rational discussion? Not on their to-do list.
I’ve censored myself, at least three times in the last two months. Scott Adams has. I’d imagine almost every writer does.
Just like Scott, something sits on my desk which I’ve been told is one of the best things I’ve ever written, yet it may never see the light of day.
Every writer knows the chilling realization after publishing when the words are (as Scott says) weaponized for the ignorant masses. You do your best to avoid it, but it happens anyway simply because trolls exist whose sole aim in life is to cause trouble and avoid rational discussion.
It’s tragic, but it’s also reality.
For those who might be concerned (and have read this blog even a little), be assured I never avoid speaking Biblical truth or taking a stand on doctrine and theology. That’s 95% of what you need to know for life, so we have much to discuss.
I’m referring to the other 5% which can provide insight, instruction, or application, but due to the third-rail nature they simply can’t be calmly discussed because trolls exist who simply won’t tolerate it (yes, they’re intolerant).
Unfortunately, with the failure of public education, before we can even think about true free speech and rational debate, we must return to logic 101, basic civility, and the desire to honestly discuss ideas as adults, and learn what should be taught in school, but generally isn’t.
I’ve started a series on logic to help people discover we can discuss ideas, a method does exist to come to reasonable conclusions, and all of this can be done calmly.
I know logic and critical thinking skills aren’t (and I’d rather they not be) the primary focus of my writing. I know when I begin to write frequently about logic I’ll lose subscribers.
The reality is very few want to study the subject, and fewer still want to learn how to apply those ideas to everyday human interaction and rational discussion.
I’ve learned in the church we have many Christians who can’t handle (as Paul said) the meat of the Word, for the simple reason they lack critical thinking skills. You can’t learn Quantum Mechanics if you don’t know Algebra.
I hope in some small way I can advance logic and clear thinking. If you agree, make sure you sign up for my newsletter.
I’m with Scott, I miss free speech.