On Free Speech

By Manuel Egaña

For a while now, I’ve been seeing with great concern how people all over the world have become increasingly intolerant to other people’s opinions. Free speech is one of the fundamental building blocks of a great society. I live in Venezuela, a country with a government that punishes those who don’t mindlessly repeat whatever propaganda the ones in power are promoting now.

However, in Venezuela it’s clear that there’s an attack on free speech for political reasons,  while in the most developed countries like the US, UK and those in the EU, it’s being attacked in the name of political correctness. Now, I’m sure that some of you (probably most) rolled your eyes as soon as you read that last sentence but bear with me for little bit.

You see, lately I’ve been seeing how Universities want to protect their students from everything that’s considered offensive by them. The problem with this is that, in my opinion, universities are places where we should have our beliefs and way of thinking challenged. That’s the only way we get to grow intellectually and as a person.

If you want to live in a completely safe bubble where none of your thoughts will be questioned or confronted then, by all means, stay home and endlessly explain your point of views to your dog.

We have to realize that we’re all biased. That the way we think about every little thing comes from a mix of what we have lived, read, heard our culture, religion and even influenced by “how our brain is wired”. Therefore, it’s much more probable that those who’s opinion are even completely opposite to our own have some truth in what they’re saying than for us to be one hundred percent right.

Even if we are absolutely correct about what we’re saying (supported by facts), we make our arguments stronger every time we have them challenged.

So please, don’t brush off those arguments that you don’t agree with or even those you find offensive, welcome and learn from them. The contrary is not worth the price. Trust me, I’ve seen firsthand how free speech disappears from a society disguised as “protection to others”.

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