By: Eric Thomas
Let me take this opportunity to applaud Lions linebacker Justin Durant. First of all, he made me laugh. Someone on Durant’s Twitter asked him if he would stop eating at Chick-Fil-A if the owner supported slavery. He tweeted back: “Chicken too tasty.” Good joke, and excellent use of fighting hyperbole with humor.
This has prompted the predictable response from every person who is standing in their respective corners, wearing their respective jerseys. The discussion of issues has devolved into dodge-ball in this country. I only turn on the news if I need a laugh. The constant back and forth from the two sides (and there are only two, apparently, and you must choose which side because someone said so) is fun to watch.
I get annoyed at the people who say that Durant should have kept his mouth shut. Why? Is Justin Durant not entitled his opinion, and doesn’t he have to right share that opinion? Isn’t Durant entitled to the same free speech as Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, and my crazy right wing aunt that actually believes the emails about death panels? What’s the problem? Critics say that Durant may ‘turn off fans’ by expressing his opinion. If you change your opinion about someone because of an opinion they have, that says a lot more about you than it does Justin Durant.
It’s a sad chapter in this country, when people of differing opinions can’t have a conversation. It’s everywhere. I work on the radio so I hear it all the time. It’s usually in all caps on the Ticket Text screen ‘YOU THINK (insert an opinion the person disagrees with), THEN I AM TURNING OFF YOUR STATION’. Really? So the only sound that can go into your ears is the sound of your own thoughts? I don’t blame the person who writes that, that philosophy is prevalent. People don’t want to hear differing opinions anymore. They only want to soak in the amniotic fluid of total agreement.
Can I ask you: Doesn’t that get boring? If you only consume information from people that think the same thing you do, what’s the point of consuming it in the first place? Why wouldn’t you just save the time that you spent reading / listening / watching and baste in sound of your own thoughts? If you do that, how will you ever learn anything new? I highly doubt that anyone walking the crust of this planet actually believes they know everything they are ever going to need to know. So why not challenge yourself?
I have no problem with athletes speaking their minds. If an athlete has an opinion that I disagree with, so what? Are you saying that you hope Justin Durant gets cut from the Lions because you disagree with something he says? If you are saying that, why? I simply don’t understand that.
I guess this all goes back to chicken man. Gustavo Fr- oh, wait, wrong chicken man. Dan Cathy, Chick – Fil – A president, was interviewed by something called the ‘Baptist Press’ and said he was not in favor of gay people marrying each other. I don’t see how this would affect a person’s opinion on a restaurant what so ever. This trend in this country is counterproductive and tired and wrong. The excoriation of Dan Cathy, and the gallons of ink spilled saying that he should have remained silent is PRECISELY what is wrong with this country.
I think that Dan Cathy should be applauded, right along with Justin Durant. I totally disagree with Cathy; I think that everyone should have the same rights. But part of those rights is to have opinions I disagree with, and I will continue to eat at your restaurant if I disagree. The progress of humanity is stymied by silence. The evolution of thoughts and ideas cannot continue without rigorous discussion and debate. If CEOs, athletes, actors, musicians, wrestlers, columnists, talk show hosts, and my crazy aunt with the emails are not allowed to speak, we all lose. If you surround yourself with people who agree with you, you’re going to be a boring person. If you walk through life and block out the Facebook pages who say things that you find offensive, you will never be challenged. Being offended is a good thing, because it makes you think. Doesn’t it strike anyone else as tragic, that we have set up these funnels for constant exchange of ideas and information, only to constantly take punitive action against people who use that same technology to express ideas?
Vigorous discussion is paramount in this country and the act of punishing someone for holding an opinion different than yours is destructive. Wouldn’t it be amazing if just ONCE one of these groups could turn the other cheek? How great would it be if a gay rights leader walked up to Chick – Fil – A and slapped his or her money on the counter, bought one of the sandwiches and ate it, proving that the most important thing to changing policy is the constant flow of dialog. As soon as one group takes punitive steps to silence the other, you have become as oppressive as the thing you railed against.
So I applaud both Justin Durant and Dan Cathy, because the discussion itself is important. Keep people talking. Now, if you excuse me, I need to drive to Ohio to buy some Spicy Chicken Nuggets.