The Price of an Opinion

When did we become so polarized that we lost our ability to have a civilized discussion about complex issues?

By Patti Davis (Ronald Reagan’s Daughter)

Newsweek

Aug. 26, 2004

Aug. 26 – I lost a job the other day. The people who had hired me figured out that I support stem-cell research (I don’t know what took them so long) and pulled the plug on a lecture engagement for which they had vigorously pursued me.

The group, which opposes such research, had booked a date with me in November to speak on the same topics I have been dealing with in lectures for years now-losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s, navigating the treacherous waters of grief-without any explicit mention of stem-cell research or, in fact, any kind of medical treatment. The lecture was to coincide with the publication of my next book, “The Long Goodbye.”

Getting the news that I was canceled was one of those moments when one realizes that the personal really is political. I certainly support anyone’s prerogative to hire or not hire whomever they choose, and I definitely don’t want to work for someone who doesn’t want me. But when people aren’t permitted to speak because their opinions are considered inappropriate, it’s a sign that something is amiss beneath the surface. Particularly, as in this case, when those opinions have nothing to do with the job itself.

Coincidentally, I had already been thinking a great deal about the vitriol that has become so pervasive in this country. In years past, there used to be civilized discourse; there are probably children now who don’t even know what that is. Wasn’t that the practice of men in powdered wigs and wooden teeth? It seems a terribly antiquated notion. We are now a modern, progressive, impatient society; we seem to not have time for discourse, or even tolerance. We’d rather lash out harshly and dismiss those who disagree with us. It saves time and is easier on the brain.

Read the rest of the article…

P.S. Thanks Randy.

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