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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Defending Opinion In My Blog


Every so often, I have people challenge my purpose for writing. They tell me how wrong I was to express a certain opinion, how off base my opinion was, or how they just wish I would "see" some glorious purpose they envision for my words. And, though they may be right, time and time again, I answer their challenges with the same reasoning.

Today, after some heated discussion with some critics, I feel compelled to state once more my writing beliefs.

I choose to exercise my right to print my own opinions based on information that I acquire and digest. I do not expect readers to agree with any view I express, yet I do want them to question their own stance on the issues advanced and respect my right to develop personal opinions, no matter what they ultimately choose to believe.

When I write blog entries, I owe no allegiance to any sponsor or to any publication. I am not paid to say certain things about any subject I choose to discuss, and no one is dependent upon my writing to advance a particular point of view. I don't write to flatter or advance any political or social group. I am an independent entity, and I relish my right to the freedom of expression.

People disagree with my viewpoint all the time. Contrary to what some think, it doesn't upset me when people object. In fact, I have always taught my writing students to invite criticism and to acknowledge the opposition when the opposition makes strong, logical points contrary to their beliefs.

Still, I believe a writer must support his own position with facts, examples, and other credible elaboration. In other words, I believe a writer must trust in the truth of his personal written expression while taking a side in a critical debate. Though others may take offense at a well-supported argument, a writer must express it distinctly by putting his very mind, heart, and soul into the well-chosen words. Sitting on a fence is largely unproductive because no real commitment is involved. If taking a well-informed position, even an unpopular one, is offensive, readers should realize the importance in a democracy of having access to all points of view.

My expression bears my own convictions. It does not require a "stamp of approval" from others though, at many times, it may beg for the attention of an audience. There is a distinct difference between wanting a reader to accept my beliefs and asking him to consider my beliefs. I take offense at those who think I write to achieve wide acceptance through blind belief. I would never want any opinion I express to be consumed without thorough independent investigation. Saying that, I still reserve the liberty to print what I want through my own informed opinion.

To judge me and pigeonhole me in a stereotypical framework -- liberal, conservative, socialist, redneck, heathen, weeping heart, antiquated senior citizen, or loony tune -- is unfair. It is a reader's prerogative to do so; however, to disagree with some or all of my opinions still does not mean you understand exactly who I am.

I really wish people could agree to disagree, have the ability to differentiate between belief and character, and realize that difference of opinion is both natural and refreshing. I can assure you that behind my words, I am a simple human being with no great designs for my writing. I will defend my written words to the hilt, yet I rankle when someone attacks me personally because of an opinion I express with ill intent -- not a judgment against my writing, but a slam against my humanity.

It continually amazes me how people evidently believe that honest, opinionated writing attempts to cast some manipulative spell upon them. The reader must possess interpretive skills and an open mind to realize a position is nothing but a written formulation of an idea. It is meant to be questioned, analyzed, and thoroughly digested, not taken for granted. Even if a written opinion is a hotbed for discussion, it is not an authoritative command for acceptance.

Anne Frank once said, "“People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn't stop you from having your own opinion.” Knowing the historical significance of Anne Frank, I believe the wisdom in this statement refers to speaking the truth as you know it even when your own opinion may put you in disfavor or in harm's way. I believe too few understand the simple need to express themselves to help better the conditions they endure. To me, many people seemingly take it for granted that they live lives incapable of having an impact on society.

And, yes, I believe that any belief is protected as long as it does not pose a threat or a danger to others. Sometimes the line between opinion and intimidation is hard to discern, yet I would hope reason would guide the dissemination of the belief. Dissent can take many forms that may be objectionable to the public. And, those who choose to dissent with questionable materials must expect outrage: such expression is "tit for tat" in that ideas meant to shock must hold up under their own criticism. Any upset for "upset's sake" is highly questionable, and I think taking gambles by using questionable reasoning always involves risk.

To close, I want to give critics my whole-hearted approval. I invite criticism, yet I expect these critics to reserve their disapproval to my writing, not to my person, as long as my writing does not violate the "reasonable" restrictions of time, place, and manner -- that is engage in "fighting words," libel, obscenity, and any other unprotected speech. I thoroughly understand my right to expression is not absolute.

I write this blog to please my own desires to communicate and to explore my thoughts about certain topics. I invite you to be a guest on this blog to express your own views as long as those views do not go beyond reasonable restrictions. I will print and respond to your critique. My email address for developed responses is frank.thompson51@yahoo.com.

I respect my audience while I thank them for encouraging me to continue the blog.
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