Can Society Survive People Holding Unacceptable Views?

Contributed by David Eastman

There is a vocal segment of society today that says it can’t. People with unacceptable views hold us back, keep us from progressing as a society. It’s where we get the notion of silencing or shouting down those who declare opinions that are not politically correct. The idea is that when all such unacceptable opinions have been silenced, something will happen. I don’t know what exactly, but something good. Or not. Maybe it will just mean more silence. And more shouting to keep it that way.

Unacceptable view #1 for me was when I voted against a Democrat member of a racial minority group for leadership in the legislature. I voted against him because I believed he would support things like abortion and income taxes. He has since done both. I was told by others afterwards that I had really voted against him because he belonged to a minority.

Unacceptable view #2 for me was voting against a new state law to replace Columbus Day with a day honoring a minority group. None of our state laws were based on race, and I wanted to keep it that way. I was told afterwards that this meant I hate minorities.

Unacceptable view #3 for me was voting against a new state law creating a special day to honor a minority group of veterans who helped build the Alaska Highway. I wanted to honor all veterans who built the highway. After all, many U.S. military veterans gave their lives while building that highway (including American soldiers representing a number of different minorities). 

Why should we only be able to honor the soldiers of one minority group, and thereby open the door for Alaskans being called racist simply for trying to honor any of the other soldiers on that day? I was reminded afterwards that I had it out for all minorities, and that my vote was an attack against the minority legislator who wrote the bill (who happens to be a friend of mine whose district is next-door, but how could they be expected to know that?).

Unacceptable view #4 was voting against a new state law to give special drivers licenses to veterans from two specific Asian ethnic groups who fought for the U.S. during the Vietnam War. I asked why we were opening up this right to these two ethnic groups, but not to veterans from the other ethnic groups who also fought with us and lost their lives under similar circumstances in the very same war.

I believe veteran status should be based solely on your military service, not based on which ethnic group you belonged to at the time. I believe that special rights based on race should never be put into state law. I was reminded afterwards that this meant I hate the two ethnic groups that were being given the special drivers licenses.

Unacceptable view #5 was likely voting against abortion. I was told that doing so was uncaring and insulting to victims of sexual assault. I voted against abortion anyway because little people are important too. A lot of other people did too.

Unacceptable view #6 was thinking that it was acceptable to talk about things like a boyfriend and girlfriend who were glad to get to go to Seattle for an abortion trip that the state was paying for, a mother who told her daughter that if she could just wait to have her abortion in Seattle, she would go with her and take her on a shopping trip, and a recent visitor to Anchorage who did not go through with her abortion and when she tried to fly home was told that that wasn’t part of the deal. These are all real people. They have names. And I would have to be a special kind of person if you thought I was going to make them public after the scorn, ridicule, death threats and true hate speech that my family and I have had to witness over the last week just for stating that they exist.

But real life stories don’t make for 10-second soundbites. The qualifiers get left out, and the details are left fairly vague for privacy. Vague enough for someone to read into them things like sex and gender, if they want to. And some people wanted to. And some people chose to read into them a hatred of the poor, and others chose to read into them a hatred of women, and others chose to read into them a hatred of minorities. You see, my previous votes had already “proved” all this.

And that leads us to Unacceptable view #7, which was holding all of the previous views at the same time, and is its own distinct crime. It is the crime of being perpetually willing to say and do things that someone might misinterpret as holding unacceptable, even offensive, views (racism, sexism, hateful, etc.). 

Afterwards, I was told that it wasn’t about what I meant and it wasn’t about what I said. It was about my willingness to make decisions independent of what someone else might think about it. And that is no less a crime today than speeding, if you mean to be a vocal member of society.
But society considers itself merciful. If you renounce such views, or at least pledge not to talk about them, you may be given forgiveness or at least toleration… to a point.

Unacceptable view #8, was perhaps the most vile of them all. It was thinking that as a white male, unapologetically holding all the previous unacceptable views, I had the right to call for an investigation and hearings into whether or not our state social programs are operating for the benefit of our entire state, as opposed to the benefit of the specific special interests that they more directly serve.

These are unacceptable views. Under the current dogma, those who hold them must either die or be silenced. I have the audacity to believe that unacceptable views should be heard so that the rest of us have the freedom to think and speak as we like. I know I am not the only one.

David Eastman represents rural Mat-Su (District 10) in the Alaska State House.