As the political atmosphere of our nation grows more and more tense, KO has made strong efforts to support civil discourse on campus. Both Mr. Gilyard and Mr. Dillow have made very supportive speeches at assemblies, encouraging respectful political conversations and debates. Clubs like the KO Conservative Diversity Club and Orange is the New Gray create environments where all voices can be heard.
Recently, the KO Conservative Diversity Club teamed up with the school to bring in a conservative Lauren Noble, the founder and executive director of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale, in efforts to educate students on different perspectives and how to remain respectful in political debate.
While the idea of exposing students to different ideologies and ways to have productive discourse was great, the KO News believes the execution could have been better. The main topic of Lauren Noble was remaining respectful of other people’s opinions during political discussions which is incredibly important. What she did not mention was what to do when someone’s political opinion is offensive.
Mrs. Edwards asked about how one should respond to someone who supports policies, leaders, and ideas that have undertones of sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. Despite the significance and relevance of this question, Lauren Noble did not answer this clearly.
Sometimes people have discriminatory or prejudiced views, so how is one suppose to ignore their emotions when the person they are engaging with is offending not only them, but significant amounts of the population? Civil discourse requires that every individual involved in the conversation has respect for one another, but how can one have a calm, open minded political a conversation with someone who is being disrespectful without even knowing it?
One of Lauren Noble’s main points was separating emotional responses from debate. While it is easy to say that one should simply remove their emotions from a political debate, often times people get emotional during political debates because someone is ignoring the experiences and hardships of others. Additionally, it can be argued that showing the emotions that are tied to certain policies or leaders can enhance the conversation as it better allows one to understand the effect and consequences certain issues have.
Lauren Noble did not acknowledge these questions or that emotional responses are often triggered by people voicing opinions that are prejudiced or insensitive. She did not once address how one should to respond to these discriminatory opinions nor if these opinions even warrant respect to begin with.
The KO News feels as though her talk would have been much more productive and educational if she had discussed what to do when faced with someone who is being offensive. We believe she should have talked about how to explain to such an individual why their opinions are insensitive or prejudiced and how to let them see other points of view.
KO should continue to support civil discourse and help educate the community on what to do in these hard situations as it better prepares students for the adult world.