Violence as a Response to Free Speech

Violence as a Response to Free Speech

The fact that almost 20 percent of current college students recently surveyed feel that it is fully acceptable to respond with violence to people making statements that they disagree with (http://bit.do/dRZKo) is bound to have a profound effect on our country’s future as these students grow up and bring this opinion with them as they become lawyers, bankers, politicians, etc.

But lets think a little smaller for a minute, a little closer to home. Let’s just think about the effect that opinion will have on those individual’s personal lives – on their ability to be successful in a corporation….on a team…at their job.

And let’s take a minute to think about they got here.

One of the underlying causes that lead to this type of opinion is a blatant inability to have discussions about topics that may be difficult to talk about: To have uncomfortable conversations.

Several well-established factors about the upbringing of this generation led them right down this path; a path that really shouldn’t surprise anyone when you put these pieces together.

  • The idea of winning an award for just showing up regardless of your level of talent or effort put forth leads to entitlement and the inability to handle disappointment…..or learning how to work harder to avoid it.
  • Parents stepping in to solve even the smallest issue their children face leads not only to those children expecting things to always go their way, but the inability to know how to handle anything that doesn’t because they were never given a chance to “practice” that.
  • Getting the majority of news and information from a format that intentionally tracks what you read and shows you more and more of what it already knows you want to hear creates a scenario that makes it look like your opinion is the only “real” opinion out there – whether that is true or not.

So as a review, we have the predominance of an entire generation who hasn’t had to ever really deal with the types of small challenges that get them ready for handling the more high-stakes topics that the first amendment was designed to protect the discussion of.

The folks that published the survey recommend, as a solution to their concern over the future of the protection of the first amendment, that we increase the study of constitutional law in middle and high school.

I suggest teaching children how to have difficult conversations when they are young, so that by the time they get to the point in their lives when the stakes are high, they actually know how to do it.

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