Eliminate name-calling words ending in “ist,” “phobe,” and “denier” from your vocabulary. Vitriolic name calling by itself may not break any bones, but the sticks and stones of dissent it sows fractures society into insular sub-societies. Hurling invectives will silence meaningful discussion and harden ever more extreme positions. Why should silence be the new norm of civility at the table of public debate? Just because someone agrees or disagrees with racial quotas doesn’t make them racists. Just because someone defines marriage as between one man and one woman doesn’t make them a LGBTQIAPK-phobe, nor does anyone advocating for marriage equality make them phobic of the traditional family. Some consider carbon dioxide an Earth-destroying toxic pollutant, but this doesn’t make them an energy denier. Others think carbon dioxide is just plant food for photosynthesis; that doesn’t make them a climate change denier. To disagree is normal, and to do so in a disagreeable way is counterproductive. If someone called you an “ist,” “phobe,” or “denier,” would you be ready to listen or ready to ...?
Daniel B. Bruzzini, St. Louis