As usual, the UNC College Republicans are hosting an event about free speech. Can I just say that if I was politically ignorant and didn’t know what traditional Republican beliefs were and I was solely basing it off the College Republicans, I would think Republicans only care about being anti-political correct and protecting hate speech. Anyway, I digress.
So Dr. Mike Adams is coming to campus next week. He’s a professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He studies sociology and criminology and is a self-proclaimed liberal….interesting.
In the past, Adams has posted things on his Facebook page such as “the only thing more disgusting than a jihadist Muslim is a pro-choice Muslim” and “let’s make it illegal for doctors to mutilate the genitals of the mentally ill. That would resolve the whole hb2 thing”.
Last week, UNC College Republicans wrote a letter to the editor of the The Daily Tar Heel basically saying Adams is a cool guy and the UNC community should come hear him speak.
Here’s my issue. I don’t care that this guy is coming to campus. Come, speak, whatever. But the problem is he is solely speaking, not engaging. He is going to come here, spit his rhetoric about why being politically correct is a joke, probably offend the LGBTQ community, and maybe entertain some questions from the audience about how to deal with being the only republican in their class.
I don’t want to go to that. I don’t want to attend a lecture by someone who is going to shit on my beliefs and then not even going to give me a chance to explain my opinion? That isn’t discourse, it’s a lecture.
If I wanted to engage in civil discourse, I would grab have an actual conversation with someone who has different viewpoints than me. Hint: this doesn’t necessarily have to be a Republican but for the sake of this article let’s pretend it is. We would grab coffee, talk about ideology, talk about political institutions, and try to figure out how we came to develop what we believe. Talk about the experiences and identities we bring to the table and not invalidate them. Listen to learn, not to respond.
If I go see Dr. Mike Adams, is the coffee scenario the kind of civil discourse I will get to engage in? Probably not. And there is the main problem. Sure, I could go to this lecture and ask a question challenging him, but that is not an environment I personally want to be in. I don’t want to ask a question and instead of him answering it, he tries to invalidate me and my opinion. Just like a Republican probably wouldn’t want to come to an explicitly Democrat speaker event and challenge them and then get embarrassed by a room full of people that have pre-conceived notions about you and your party.
The way I see it, I wouldn’t go to this event to engage in civil discourse. I don’t think being surrounded by people who don’t agree with you is the best way to have a conversation. But I would go to gain a different perspective. To hear different opinions, and then maybe discuss them later one on one with someone I did feel comfortable having this conversation with. I’m all for leaning into discomfort, but that discomfort needs to turn into growth.
I guess my point is, UNC College Republicans, own up to what you are doing. If the tables were turned and UNC Young Democrats hosted this type of event would you come? This isn’t civil discourse, this is a lecture to engage in confirmation bias. To have someone confirm what you already believe is true. If you want to engage in civil discourse, have an actual conversation.