Regaining our right to speak

Regaining+our+right+to+speak

THE STANDARD EDITORIAL BOARD OF 2012-2013

Everyone has an opinion. It may not be strong or sway to a radical or reactionary view, but it is an opinion nonetheless. And all those opinions should be allowed to be expressed. No one’s opinion should be suppressed or silenced for any reason and instead, as a school, we should promote the sharing of opinion, welcoming all views to mix together in a healthy environment.
The Middle East Club took a positive step in this direction, hosting a debate covering the conflicts between Israel and Palestine. However, discussions such as this one need to become commonplace. We often neglect addressing and discussing controversial subjects within the school, or if we do, it occurs in an extremely controlled manner in which a complete spectrum of opinions are unable to be expressed. From 8:05 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. on a regular school day, current political, social and even economic controversies are seldom discussed in a completely open forum where all those who find the topic relevant to their lives can share their thoughts.

This lack of open forums has led to a dangerous silencing of many views, especially those views that are contrary to the mainstream opinion. When an attempt has been made to voice a contentious opinion that is contrary to that of the majority, it is almost always overwhelmed by a swarm of the infuriated. It is ridiculous that, in a school that strives to produce global and well-rounded citizens, opinions can be met with such hostility.

Such hostility was exemplified during an open-mic discussion in a grade 10 meeting. An open-mic is the perfect opportunity to discuss topics in an open forum in which students can express whatever opinion they have. However, after suggesting starting a discussion regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, Tamara Masri (’15) was personally attacked, told the topic she was discussing wasn’t relevant in such an environment and that she shouldn’t talk about it again.

It is disappointing that, in a supposedly welcoming and respectful environment, students can be ridiculed and personally attacked simply because they shared their opinion. This can never be allowed to happen again, or if it does, the repercussions placed upon those who attack people who share their opinion must be severe. Continued attacks against people’s opinions will cause students and community members to shy away from sharing their own. A disagreement with a person’s opinion doesn’t excuse attacks against them, and no matter how small of a minority an opinion holds, the school has the responsibility to protect it. It is inexcusable that the school deems it fit to promote acceptance, but stand idly as people are targeted when their opinion does not align with that of the majority.

As a community, we need to appreciate that controversial subjects should not be kept in the dark, and that opinions that differ from the mainstream are not dangerous, but, in fact, beneficial. They aid in broadening the views of the community by allowing greater insight into topics.

This can be done by the utilization of the powerful tool of debate in an open and safe environment. From this platform, light would be shed upon topics that are often suppressed and students would be able to share any feelings they have on any given topic. In these discussions, all sides need to be able to share their opinions and no one can be attacked for doing so. It is also important to teach that even though subjects can generate a great deal of passion on both sides of the argument, controversial topics should not be avoided for simplicity’s sake.

Steps have already been taken to induce more open discussion, however, they need to increase tenfold. Students should follow the example set by the Middle East Club with their debate about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Not only did this discussion cover a current and controversial event, but during the discussion all opinions were able to be expressed in a healthy manner. If students follow this example, our community will strengthen and will be truly be able to embody the values of respect and acceptance outlined in our mission statement.

 

 

CORRECTION: Personal attacks were made on Masri over Facebook. In the Grade 10 class meeting there was a debate over whether the Israel/Palestine conflict should be discussed.