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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Education And Persuasion, Not Coercion, Remain The Best Methods

Donald Trump's Presidential campaign has drawn protestors to his recent campaign rallies and one was cancelled after Trump couldn't deliver his speech over protestors who spoke loudly. The next thing you know, verbal altercations between Trump protestors and supporters became physical.

Make no mistake: I don't agree with many of the things Trump says and, in some cases, he is wrong, bottom line. With that said, the price we have to pay for First Amendment rights is that Trump is allowed to speak his mind.

At the same time, protestors are allowed to peacably assemble and they can't be removed from the rallies, no matter how much Trump supporters may not like it. And the protestors have to deal with Trump supporters and whatever peacable means they demonstrate to back him. But once the protestors become disruptive to the point Trump can no longer speak, they have crossed a line, just as supporters who decide to punch out a protestor have crossed a line.

Shouting down somebody whose views you don't agree with, or even views which most agree are wrong to hold, is a form of coercion. Ditto for anyone who tells somebody scheduled for an appearance that they are not allowed to discuss a particular viewpoint or anybody who resorts to physical attacks to retaliate against somebody who holds an opposing viewpoint.

I am a believer in education and persuasion to get people to understand why certain views and language are unacceptable. Educations means taking time to explain why certain views are wrong to hold, by using facts and research to support that explanation. Persuasion means getting a person to understand why the view is wrong through explaining what is a better way to convey a viewpoint or communicate with people.

Coercion is the easy way out. Sure, you don't want to hear somebody throwing around racial slurs or stereotypes, but implementing a "zero tolerance" approach is only going to be met with more resistance. It also means you aren't truly promoting one of the basic ideas behind the First Amendment: That ideas should be freely exchanged and open discussion is important to evolving as a society.

When I entered college, I didn't know everything there was to know about the world. I still don't know everything there is to know today. That's no different from anyone else. Yet what happens when colleges decide that certain topics are not to be discussed whatsoever because those running the colleges don't want anyone to get upset? How can one truly learn more about the world around them and why certain things shouldn't be said without allowing students and professors to openly discuss things and reach a better understanding about how to communicate?

And while it's often difficult to get points conveyed to a person who is convinced that what he or she believes in is absolute and should never change, any response or method that results in coercion is not going to convince the person to change his or her mind. In some cases, there may be no guarantee to can change that person's mind. But you have a better chance of doing so through education and persuasion, than you ever will through coercion.

Coercion is easy to do and requires little to no thought. Education and persuasion are difficult and require more thought. But, ultimately, the latter two are the better route to go.

And as much as we may not like to hear what certain people have to say, we must recognize that they have a right to say it. If we want to prove them wrong, that requires us to use reason, research and facts to do so, things that take time to put together. Simply shouting those people down may not require time, but it's not the right way to do it.

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