Monday, May 09, 2005

Breaking Through the Silence

(This column was originally published in the May 2005 issue of the conservative student newspaper The Musket. This piece was designed knowing that many of its readers would not know about this blog, which is why it keeps a more general focus than a typical post.)


Our voices are rarely heard these days.

This is not because we are not speaking; the problem is that our speech is falling in line with the status quo. Those who follow the leaders remain unheard because you can’t pick out their voices; at the same time, those who really do have something to say are often silenced. The ideologues can speak for years and never once give us anything of value. When the opportunity for debate presents itself, these people just speak louder and force the rest into silence.

The next time you pick up a newspaper, ask yourself whether it is promoting free thought or promoting the thoughts of its staff. I like to say that some news “pops” (ends on a good note) and some news “thuds” (ends on a sour or snide note). Dan Rather made a career out of thud-filled reporting, and many current op-ed writers such as Frank Rich of the New York Times employ a similar style. I’m not saying that conservatives don’t do their fair share of this, but liberals seem to have the market cornered on pessimism lately. The flood of it may never stop coming; recent surveys of the press and its political affiliations suggest that as many as 80 percent of journalists consider themselves to be liberal. Journalists like to believe that they can check their bias at the door, but actually doing so is nearly impossible.

The only solution to this problem is encouraging the views of the common individual to be heard. Enter the new face of the media: the bloggers. Often independent citizen journalists, bloggers provide a whole new forum for political discussion and news reporting that is free from outside controls. The mainstream media is largely scared to death of bloggers, who take it upon themselves to do all the fact-checking and scrutinizing that the press rarely remembers to do. Remember last year’s upheaval over Memogate, in which CBS used fake National Guard documents to question President Bush’s service record? If not for the bloggers who examined the memos, nobody would have known the truth. I value two things more than almost anything, and they are free thinking and the truth. Both can be dangerous when possessed by a sharp mind.

At this point, you may be wondering who I am. That answer is all too simple for me to give: I am a voice with a purpose. I have my own political opinions, but I believe that having them challenged is the only way to think freely and learn. You cannot know more about me than what I write, and I think that this benefits us both. The blog I run deals with everything from politics to current events, with the occasional diversion towards something comical. Even though I am a moderate Republican, I always attempt to give my readers both sides of a story, which often leads to a change in my opinions after the fact. Whenever someone leaves a negative comment on my blog, I take a bizarre pleasure in it; after all, adding your own two cents to anything means that you’re thinking. I never tell anyone what to think, but I always tell you to keep thinking. Whether you come down on the left, the right, or somewhere else entirely, I encourage you to do so as an exercise of your free will. If you have convictions and the nerve to discuss them with others, there will come a day when the ideologues cannot overtake you. Only then will you truly be a leading voice, and at that moment, the world will stand waiting to listen.

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