Words are powerful. They have the ability to enrage or to soothe. They can be triggering, or calming. One of those things we learn in life is to censor ourselves lest our words inspire backlash from other people. Something else we learn is to uncensor ourselves in order to strike another person.
I have slowly become more comfortable with speaking to other people about my relatively radical beliefs. Voluntaryism and radical unschooling can be very triggering topics for many people. Nobody likes to hear that they support what I consider to be terrible practices like political scheming, punitive parenting, and compulsory schooling.
I can get myself into trouble by sharing my opinions surrounding these topics with the wrong people. But every day that goes by, I find myself less and less inhibited in this way.
I am increasingly of the mind that people should self-censor less about the many opinions they hold. It shouldn’t matter how radical or crazy or weird they are, too. Let every opinion find the light of day. How else can we learn about them, talk about them, discard them, or adopt them?
I agree with my friend Aaron White who wrote,
If someone says they want to murder people or they believe in murdering people … it could be a very productive thing to discuss their ideas openly. Why? Because it is possible that you can avert something horrendous … but even more importantly, this person is merely the person vocalizing their thoughts. Many more people might feel the same thing. By airing out horrendous ideas and discussing them openly, these ideas don’t stew angrily in the minds of alienated people only to be released violently.
Most people have had ideas on race, gender, politics, behavior, etc, that fit far outside generally accepted ideas. By airing them out we can have a productive discussion. By closing them off and shaming them, we create school shootings, violent crime, terrorism, resentment and alienation.
I openly talk about all ideas that someone can discuss civilly. This includes genocide, rape and murder. The moment I end conversation is when someone can’t discuss things civilly, or they take action on their violent thoughts.
He cuts right to the jugular, as it were. On my recent podcast episode about how to stop the epidemic of rape and sexual assault, I gave a very detailed account of my first experience with masturbation, around the age of 12.
It might seem strange to you that I talked about something like that so publically. But I didn’t feel strange. It felt quite natural and appropriate for the conversation we were having. I think that if more people felt comfortable being open talking about these things, we’d have less of these problems in the world.
There’s a lot of fear and shame around the sexual impulses that we have, or don’t have. Maybe the conventions that created this type of environment are somewhat responsible for any so-called deviancy in this area.
In any event, I consider it a courageous thing to voice one’s opinion or tell one’s story about any subject. I want to see more people do this, even if, especially if, I don’t agree with those opinions. As powerful as words can be, censorship is commensurately as dangerous. What’s going on today on college campuses regarding free speech is a travesty for the future well-being of humanity.