Politics and Safe Spaces

This caught my eye:


Here’s how I think this works.  Facts and evidence that challenge beliefs create “cognitive dissonance.” This dissonance causes emotional discomfort.  People can choose to confront this discomfort and use facts and evidence to shape beliefs, or they can deny any facts and evidence that make them feel uncomfortable.

We are becoming intellectually lazy as a nation.  Way too often we choose to ignore or deny words that create thoughts that conflict with beliefs that make us uncomfortable.  In college today, this is known as “safe space.”  In their attempts to never deal with the reality of different or even nasty words, opinions, or contradictory evidence, students and the ideologues who manipulate them even demand to be warned in advance if anything in campus life might create discomfort.

The safe space movement is currently concentrated in higher education, primarily as a way to demand conformity of ideas.  Unable to win ideological arguments rationally, and faced with an upsurge in moderate or conservative students who have had enough of the entrenched biases, campus leftists now bully opponents on the basis of “feelings.”  But this is also happening in the context of a broader national political environment run amok with extremist dialogue.  As our political discourse becomes less civil, it requires more effort to parse the ever-growing amount of information (and just plain crap) that is available.  Unless you are a news, politics, or data junkie, it’s just a lot easier to dismiss anything that challenges your existing beliefs.

Which brings us to Mr. Gillespie’s observation.  Putting Dr. Carson aside (he is just in over his head right now), it is amazing but understandable that so many people have decided that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump should be President in the face of so much evidence that they care not the slightest about the veracity of anything they have or ever will say.  So either we have an emerging consensus that truthfulness is not a necessary quality in a future president, or we are in a state of perpetual denial, seeking our own space that is safe from the discomfort that comes from unpleasant information.  And the amount of lying that goes on (see Politico and Ben Carson) makes it easy to accept that everything is just a lie anyway.

It seems clear that Mr. Trump’s candidacy is not good for the country, and Secretary Clinton just plain lied about certain events while she was Secretary of State.  But I also see that many of Trump’s and Clinton’s supporters just don’t care.  In fact, pointing this out just leads to charges of counter-lying.

Time for a little unsafety.  We should not expect that the mass of information, attack, or counter-attack on social media will lessen.  It is incumbent upon rational adults to suck it up and be unsafe.  If for no other reason than to set an example for our children who are being told that they can go into the world demanding safe spaces when none exist.

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