To the Editor:
To be fair, when my roommate first showed me Karl Salzmann’s first letter to the editor “A Response to ‘The Heights’ Coverage of Coates’ Talk,” I hoped John Oliver would wander onto The Heights website for his latest ammunition. As I read yet another LTE “The Only Race We Should Be Talking About Is NASCAR” and Salzmann’s subsequent chomp on the bait, I scrapped the idea of a segment on John Oliver and hoped for a full-blown reality series. And, given the responses in The Heights comments section and the shared Facebook posts on my news feed, I’m assuming most of you reading this thought his stance would be fit for a sitcom, too.
Yet, I want to take a moment to look at the totality of these letters, so bear with me. I read many comments suggesting Salzmann may be right, and many more condemning him as ignorant, sheltered, or just plain stupid. And I loved all of it. Every LTE he wrote. Every attacking or supporting comment. Hell, even every Facebook post about it. It was great, fantastic even. Let me explain….
I don’t love what Salzmann is saying. Frankly, I’m not sure anyone could.
I don’t even love that he’s speaking without fear of reputation tarnishing or hope of appeal to others. Although, many may find speaking your mind courageous (looking at those in Donald Trump’s camp).
But, I love that he can speak.
I love that he’s able, and apparently more than a little eager, to use his voice. I love that a black presidential hopeful can compare the sitting President’s healthcare policies to slavery. I love that a billionaire businessman with a fox on his head and an impregnable love of the word “China” can open his mouth to spew nonsense about one group of people one day and another the next. I love that a group of football players can help earn a more important victory off the field than they ever could on it.
Let’s take a wider scope, shall we. It seems every other day the news cycles are filled with outrageous, politically or factually incorrect claims by politicians, celebrities, or Facebook friends you haven’t unfriended yet. You may hate what these people are saying, but you should love that they can say it. You may think they are ignorant or uneducated, maybe even just plain stupid, but they have a right to be, don’t they?
The beauty of this entire situation is that it’s our right to make our own opinions and submit it to newspapers, or to post them on Facebook, or voice them in a conversation.
At the end of the day, we will progress because of our right to dialogue on anything and everything we choose. It is our right to our opinions, right or wrong, that push our country forward. Growth will only come with unbound dialogue, and unbound dialogue is only possible with freedom of speech.
I don’t like what Salzmann is saying or that he’s saying it, but I love that he can.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Photo