In the wake of the horrifying events in Orlando over the last week, I have noticed an unsettling trend on my social media feeds.
Across the US, people are shocked, frightened, saddened, and outraged. Whether they know someone affected by the Orlando attacks or not, Americans have every right to feel this entire range of emotions. Such attacks strike at the core freedoms that our forefathers first laid down and that we have since shaped through bitter battles.
One of those rights is the freedom of speech and religion.
There is no doubt that the political process this election cycle has tested the limits of that freedom. Politicians left and right have been spewing anger, and constituents have responded in kind. As someone who grew up in the southeastern US and currently lives in California, I have friends and family on both sides of the debate.
Many of my social media friends are quite vocal about their opinions. As they should be – opinions are the epitome of freedom of speech.
But I’ve seen some berating those offering thoughts and prayers. Calling out those who “don’t do enough” on the issues they believe matter. Stating they’ll “unfriend” or “block” anyone who disagrees with them on issues of debate.
Think about the precedents set with calls like these. People respond differently to tragedy. Let them. It is not for us to judge who is “doing enough” and who isn’t. And please, don’t censor people who don’t agree with your strong opinions. Instead, engage them. Try to empathize with them. Maybe then you’ll have a chance to change their mind instead of further entrenching them.
Share your beliefs, but don’t censor those who disagree. The first amendment matters as much as any other, if not more. Let’s not lose sight of that.