The Real Reason We Need to Stop Trying to Protect Everyone’s Feelings
Ryan Holiday
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While I can understand your perspective on this issue of “over-sensitivity” that some of us are apt to display where books, movies and other entertainments are concerned, I would say that it is equally true that we are now living in a world which is, frankly, seriously over-populated, and thus crowded to such an extent that our tempers are flaring, we are feeling oppressed and thus we become impatient and intolerant of others. The effects of crowding have been demonstrated in scientific experiments which have shown that crowded animals (and thus, people) become aggressive, hostile, irrational and dangerous.

I agree with your observation that governments can become aggressive and oppressive as well. Controlling a large population of people to prevent them from destroying their town, or murdering people, or overthrowing the government (!) becomes a priority in these conditions.

The personal solution, to simply NOT read offensive material, not participate in viewing offensive films, etc., is always an option, of course. Using personal initiative to avoid exposure to offensive books or movies is an option, but not without personal exposure (at least initially) to the offensive material.

However, I think it’s important to recognize that people who join oppressive religious organizations tend to become supportive of whatever the religious leaders support. Some of us (many of us) can be persuaded to become very intolerant, hostile, even crazy when we are subjected to daily influences that are hostile, negative, or even irrational.

Here in America, we’ve got a large body of conservative, sometimes irrational, Christian “religious right” believers who are afraid that our country is going to hell because the rest of us are “throwing off our bonds” to religious dogma. Some of these religious groups are totally up-in-arms about the rising number of atheists and agnostics. They are certainly among the group that wants more censorship of the books put out for distribution.

Ultimately, the problem goes a lot deeper than personal convictions and prejudice. It’s fomented by crowding pressures. When there is room to get away from things that upset, or disgust you…when you can simply say “NO!” to reading or viewing something that you cannot tolerate, WITHOUT being censored, or academically “punished”, or humiliated by social response, then it’s easy to simply walk away from what offends you. But where do you go when you cannot say “NO!”.

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