Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Letter to the Editor

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We live in a society of fear. We Americans, we Minnesotans, we Carls do live in fear of ourselves and our own thoughts. One wrong word and some offended person will jump and lecture us about a better way, a way that forces us to recognize only one viewpoint of a spectrum and cheats us of our own opinions. Doesn’t that feel like an injustice? They are our thoughts and nobody else can hold us hostage for that.

Yet they do. Last term I was invited to write about censorship. I wrote about why censorship is bad and harmful, about the ways people censor us unfairly. I wrote a column that is not in line with mainstream Carleton political culture because one-sided conversations prove and gain nothing. It was not published, which confused me since I wrote to say no to one-sidedness: the democratic values of our country and of its founders specifically protected freedom of speech and thus freedom of thought. I am not afraid to admit I do not think like mainstream liberal Carleton, because that diversity is good for all of us.

But instead of sharing a difference of viewpoints, the columns then lauded a ‘blessed conversational arena’ that was only devoid of diversity of beliefs. Whatever the editors’ intentions, I had been rendered “voiceless” in speaking to Carleton’s community out of fear of that community’s response. I did not write to a faceless “blogosphere” crowd but to Carleton. I hope to grant Carleton opportunity for the conversations that are the only way to bring differing ideas together so that everyone can learn, and through that learning achieve respectful understanding. I was particularly disappointed to read that the faculty and staff, people who are supposed to inspire us to hear and challenge differing thoughts, fled the Cow as if in fear from one person with opinions they do not like. If anything, our words are the only way to challenge other opinions and our silence is our complicit agreement.

The act of publishing an opinion should not be mistaken for approval of the opinion, but approval for dialogue. It is I who says that censorship is wrong, not the editors regardless of whether they agree. I say that “hate-crimes” produce just the same harmful results as any crime. I say that it is discriminatory and unfair for the Smith College community to declare “#blacklivesmatter” more important than “All lives matter.” These are my ideas, ideas you have the right to hear. I sign this with my name because these are my ideas and you have the right to challenge me over them. I do not submit anonymously so as to bombard people with a message they cannot argue against. I do not fear your response but welcome it.

This is the cost of freedom. It is the grueling contest between people who understandably would like to think they have already found the best answers. I urge the editors to promote discourse and differing viewpoints. I do not expect the editors to agree with everything I say. I ask them to respect my opinions enough to present them to their intended audience so that we can converse. I ask that we trust reason and good will, not our fears, to guide us.

Live true,
Edward Charles Malnar

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