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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Surrounded by Many Voices

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We’ve come very, very far from the days when empires could effectively wipe someone out of history through book burnings and other means of coercion, destruction, and death. Nowadays, we’ve become articulate about all kinds of ideas, and nothing seems to hold us back from expressing them in one of our many modern media outlets. We’re in the day and age when more voices are out there than ever before, with more volume than before. That said, we still struggle everywhere for balance regarding the place and exercise of open ideas. I’m not a fan of taking polar sides. It’s too complicated to be on one completely when it comes to this situation. And at this stage in the unfolding story of our species, we’ll have to keep that quest for balance going, lest we lose our openness, or leave it unbridled to inflict harm. Concisely, we’re continuing to ask about that line between individual liberty and protection from it. It’s a job for all of us, and for all of those who will come after us, to be involved in this quest.

We will surely continue in this quest, knowing fully how many times we’ve seen the pendulum swing. We’ve been reminded of this many times in campus debates, such as the emergence of the microaggressions blog a couple of years back, followed by subsequent discussions and debates that ran over into last year. Now we’ve been reminded again of the difficulty of our quest for open expression since the Aphrodite column became the center of controversy over its utterly distasteful commentary on professional relationships two weeks ago. And now we must seek balance once again for our expression.

Having mentioned the recent controversy, I won’t add much to the debate, since others have contributed their voices appropriately. I’ll only reiterate that despite the paper’s status as an open forum, the paper should acknowledge when our values are subverted, or rather perverted, as can happen to any institution. When it comes to seeking balance and moving forward in our conversations about the openness of expression, we will need preparation and perspective. With all the voices surrounding us, coming from all different places, shaped by divergent events, we live in this great din, or so it sounds at first. It doesn’t have to be that way. If one understands how they all fit together, how they all came to be and why, the voices make sense. There are patterns: there are ways they intertwine, and don’t intertwine. All in all, we must understand, and from that understanding, we can begin the work of balance.

It’s easy to forget that we all come from different places when it comes to the way we express our voices. But in understanding this with full perspectives, we can more fully express ourselves, and be open. With full perspectives, we can also fully know when our unchecked, uninformed voices lead to harm. Perspective will be our way to coexist and work towards the community we want, and as long as we are a diverse community (and one way or another, we always will be), perspective is perhaps one of the only ways we can do so.

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