Silence is the Voice of Complicity

I’m a huge fan of free speech. It doesn’t mean I like everything that other people say. It doesn’t mean I’ll stand around and listen. But it is important enough to me that I gave seven years of my youth in military service to support free speech. It’s important enough to me that I continue to try to encourage people to speak.

Have you seen the bumper sticker that says, “Silence is the Voice of Complicity”? I think it’s true. I also think it is often easier to ignore a problem than to confront it. It sometimes works with children and with puppies. When they don’t get the response they are hoping for they often stop the behavior. You probably know this doesn’t work with teenagers. If your new driver borrows your car without asking and you say nothing your new driver learns they don’t have to ask for the car.

When your coworker makes an offensive remark and you ignore it, they learn, and the people around you learn, it’s okay to make those kinds of remarks. It’s not easy to make an appropriate response to an inappropriate comment. It makes everyone uncomfortable. But inappropriate comments also make people uncomfortable. If you’re going to be uncomfortable anyway, why not venture an appropriate response?

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