Diversity of Political Opinion

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Diversity of Political Opinion

Imani Beckett, Staff Writer

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The common narrative about high school and college campuses seems to be that conservatives routinely have their opinions suppressed by their leftist peers and administration. Though this attitude might seem intolerant, it’s actually an understandable reaction to much of the mainstream conservative rhetoric.

Though none have reported suppression by the administration, it is certainly true that there’s a culture at Pali of relative disapproval for right wing views.

“I feel like being a conservative has put me under a lot of attack,” said Conservative Club and Palisades Ambassadors president Eli Safaie-Kia. Students with unpopular beliefs, namely socialists, don’t seem to encounter the same animosity as conservatives. “I occasionally face unwarranted hostility for my beliefs, especially my more radical ones, but rarely at Pali,” says Democratic Socialists of Pali High Co-President Walker Uhls. Junior Jack Jeffers a Marxist-Leninist, agrees with Uhls. “I haven’t faced any true hostility for my beliefs,” said Jeffers. “Most people are liberals/democrats, and conservatives are often ridiculed.”

Though conservatives may find this frustrating, they should keep in mind the way these views directly affect people’s lives.

Kia said that the ideas he’s gotten the most hostility for were his opinions on trans issues. Though he thinks using a person’s preferred pronouns is the “respectful and mature thing to do,” he also believes people “shouldn’t be obligated to call a transgender person by the pronouns that they asked to be called. Once you begin to create a certain set of anti-discrimination rules, you begin to infringe on the rights of others.” The Conservative Club president also clarified that although he opposes discrimination against transgender individuals, he does not believe that “artificial laws and rules that take away from the freedoms of the majority” are the answer. To Kia this might just be an issue of free speech, but to transgender people these lack of legal protection is a potential danger to their well being.

I respect the right of all to hold and express their opinions whether I agree with them or not. However, people with controversial views shouldn’t be shocked if they are met with hostility for holding views that, no matter their intentions, are inimical to a group’s best interests. These students ideas aren’t being suppressed because they are conservative; no one is getting up in arms at a student supporting a repeal of the estate tax. The anger, rather, is a natural reaction to someone proposing policies that could potentially restrict their civil rights. Conservatives should not be surprised if a person of color or members of the LGBT community are angered by their support of repealing workplace discrimination rules.

Of course, these ideas are not the only facet of conservative ideology. Liberty and free speech are a cornerstone of these beliefs.

“When I explain to most people that conservatism is about promoting true freedom, the reaction I usually see on people’s faces is confusion. It often surprises people to hear that believing in freedom of speech or freedom of religion is truly a conservative ideal.”

While, as Kia says, conservatism largely supports freedom of speech, there’s a history of hypocrisy associated with conservatives and the first amendment. According to Associate Professor of Political Science Wayne Batchis, in the 1960’s, prominent conservative magazines like the National Review advocated for restrictions on freedom of speech. Most conservatives at the time supported a freedom of speech that should be regulated by “common sense and morality.” In general the conservative movement today claims to support free speech, but in practice only use it as an excuse to justify their hateful rhetoric. Prominent conservatives like Ben Shapiro and Dave Rubin are quick to protect a student’s right to misgender transgender people, while they turn a blind eye to anti-BDS laws, which prohibit federal employees from boycotting products made in Israel, thus suppressing the free speech of federal employees.

Many people on both sides of the political spectrum have denounced division and promoted respectful dialogue between those of differing views. Although, in a perfect world, this ideal would be attainable, the sensitivity of certain topics prevents its realization. Often when we argue about politics, we forget that we are arguing about issues that affect real people’s lives. The ability to remain cool and detached during political dialogues is a privilege reserved for people who have very little at stake. While it may seem “uncivil,” it makes complete sense for someone to take offense when someone supports policies that are potentially detrimental to others.

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