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It is the epitome of hypocrisy to demand to be heard, yet refuse to listen. The fulcrum of a democratic society is having a well-informed population and an open forum to express ideas. Unfortunately, nowadays it is virtually impossible to see either of these critical elements in popular society. Both the left and the right of American politics have become so polarized that they cannot even see the centrist’s, let alone the other side’s perspective. This is not a good trend for a free and allegedly open society. Now, to top it off, if an individual even considers another perspective they are guilty of THOUGHTCRIME. As anyone who has read 1984 will know, THOUGHTCRIME is the “crime” of having an opinion different from the official mainstream idea.

Other slogans from Orwell's famous book include "Freedom is Slavery", "Ignorance is Strength, and "War is Peace". Today, we can add another: "Censorship is Tolerance."

How have we come to this wretched state? While it is not expressly illegal to have a different opinion, it is enforced through a number of means as if it is. Both legal and social means are used to punish and ostracize those members of our society who make the mistake of crossing the wrong people. The bakers in Oregon who refused to bake a cake for a homosexual couple were fined $135,000 for violating anti-discrimination laws. The CEO of Mozilla was just recently pressured to resign from the company he helped found, because he donated money to support Prop. 8 which intended to bar gay couples from marriage. Books on Native American history were recently banned from Arizona public schools. Colleges and Universities around the country have been banning speakers who espouse an opposing view to that of the majority of students or faculty. These fragile students even go so far as claiming to be victimized by the “violence” of having THE CHOICE to listen to opposing views.

Critical thinking is the cornerstone of a proper education. Just as in math or science, being able to repeat facts is not a measure of intelligence. If that were the case, then a parrot would rank among the most intelligent animals on earth. The true benchmark of knowledge is understanding the underlying concepts. This is akin to me claiming that because I can tell that the sky is blue, I must be a smart person. Pay no mind to why the sky is blue. In order to be an adult with a fully developed mind and the ability to be an informed member of society, you must think for yourself. Being spoon-fed concepts, ideals, ideologies, and positions by anyone is contradictory to this, and it results in a society of ignorance. Listening to what others have to say and having an informed debate rather than dismissing it as “noise” or resorting to ad hominem attacks does not further your point. In fact, it shows that you cannot logically defend your own position. Opposing viewpoints should always be welcomed in our society with open ears and open minds.

The efforts to silence opposition in America are a signal of the perpetrators’ megalomaniacal and authoritarian intent. The ego can become so inflated that a person cannot even entertain the thought that they could be wrong, and are willing to sacrifice the same principles they espouse when it supports their views. The right to freedom of speech doesn’t protect your feelings. In fact, it leaves them open to verbal assault. That is one of the sacrifices you make by choosing to live in a free country. Nobody said being free is easy! Trying to manipulate the law to silence opposition goes against every facet of our society, and using social means to try and discredit or remove critics should be the 8th level of hell to any true thinker.

And for the record… “It’s 2015” is not a logical justification for anything other than writing 2015 as the year, Mr. Trudeau.

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Alan N

Alan Novak is a former Air Force Combat Controller (CCT) with multiple deployments to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Prior to his career as a Special Operations JTAC, he attended Purdue University for a degree in Engineering. He currently works as a Defense Contractor in the Southwest.