“Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent and debate.” – Hubert H. Humphrey
It has become apparent that many people feel disillusioned by what they describe as the intolerance of dissenting views on the blog. The impression is that any opinion unpopular with the majority is instantly scrunched up, condemned to the dustbin and the offending commenter vilified.
For the purpose of clarification, it bears repeating: Kito Diaries is an open forum for all of us to share our stories, ideas, fears, confusions and joys. Most of the stuff we talk about here are things we cannot – dare not – share with the outside world, if we love our lives. Hence, we cannot flee the oppression of our opinions as imposed on us by those out there only to come in here and replicate the vice.
Nobody has the right to silence another person just because they do not agree with their opinions. I say this with the realization that I am also guilty of the offense. In KD, there is one hundred percent freedom to disagree. Disagree as fiercely as you can and be ready to be disagreed with too.
That said: freedom of expression comes with responsibility. And this is where our comments must be guided by the ethics of honesty, sensitivity, taste, and all the other noble values cultured people take into consideration before they speak. We cannot condescend to people, be rude, piss on others’ beliefs, lifestyle, preferences and character, and expect to be cheered.
Secondly, we should learn to dissent with respect. (Chinua Achebe said something along these lines.) Debates are not world wars nor meant to be shouting matches. Nobody will listen to you if they think you’re out to prove their “foolishness” to them or impose your own ideas on them. We are humans, we have egos. If you want to “correct” a person, there’s a gentle way to do it. Face issues, leave personalities; be polite, and avoid name-calling.
Thirdly – and this has to be said – some comments, no matter how you shake them and turn them upside down, will be obnoxious. All shades of wrong. And the urge to slap the commenter for spouting such bullshit will be overwhelming. Hate speech is taboo. Denigrating the harmless personal choices of others is prohibited. Some things are right and others wrong. No in-betweens. We should take it upon our consciences to know what goes where.
I would like to point out the image below as an example of what I just talked about. A commenter apparently felt such a lack of humanity that the comment below was what he could come up with as an expression of his disapproval of the writer, James.This is unacceptable! The reason I’m averse to the comments section of most mainstream blogs like Linda Ikeji’s blog is because of venom such as this. I will not take it here.
I do hope this blog has been, and continues to be, a place where we all come to release our pent-up freedoms, have healthy conversations and feel truly liberated.