OP-ED: Forced Silence on Controversial Subjects

Angelic Menzel, Junior, Staff Reporter

Fear of being judged for one’s political and social views has been and will always be a real concern. A survey conducted this year in The Washington Post with about 8,000 Americans involved found that about 66 percent of Americans felt pressure to think a certain way. Some felt that they were living amongst millions of people who “routinely lie or dissemble about their political opinions out of fear.” Not everyone will see eye-to-eye with one another, and that should be expected. From verbal backlash to violent response to civil protest, many people choose silence in order to avoid the judgment and possible aggression that comes with voicing one’s opinion. Current controversial subjects such as the presidential election, COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, and even other lesser concerns seem to be debated in an almost childlike manner. Often, those who choose to speak up may find it difficult to understand the mindset of others when their opposing opinions clash. Pelham students have experienced this hostility first hand.

“Recently, my sister and I were going to protest with the Black Lives Matter movement, and we made signs together. As we were walking down the street to meet up with other protesters, we were stopped by two drivers yelling at us saying hurtful things because of what we were doing.” junior Livia Banavar said.

“I used to try and be very politically correct and follow what others said when it came to voicing my opinion. Once, my brother cross-dressed, and when my family saw, they freaked out. There was an argument where I wanted to tell them that it shouldn’t have been an issue. But I was too scared of how they would react to me disagreeing with them,” one anonymous student said.

It should be remembered that this kind of aggression towards others in spite of political and social ideas is not a one-way street. Both sides of the political spectrum will be relentlessly bombarded with insults and critiques from the opposing view. Perhaps it should be believed that such cruelty does not belong in politics, especially in today’s climate. It is important, whether behind a screen or in person, to be tolerant and accepting of one another.