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It’s time to retire “don’t be a snowflake”

Valentina Petrova/AP

Due to the hypersensitive political environment that we’ve found ourselves in, many are pushing back with the idea that people need to toughen up and not get so upset or triggered over ideas. After all, ideas are just thoughts; they won’t hurt you. But if there’s one phrase I’ve heard more than any other this year, it’s the phrase, “don’t be a snowflake.”

I’ve heard this retort from the mouths of conservatives directed towards liberals. I’ve also heard this phrase from the mouths of liberals directed at conservatives. “Don’t be a snowflake” has become the go-to retort for anytime someone objects to your idea. It’s almost like telling people “don’t be a snowflake” — which was originally meant to encourage exposure to new ideas —  is now the new way of shutting down people’s objection to your opinion.

Recently I voiced my opinion about something that I thought was immoral. Someone who did not share my opinion told me “don’t be a snowflake.” I thought it was an odd response because I wasn’t triggered. I wasn’t upset. I wasn’t advocating for the government to ban it and I wasn’t calling the perpetrator racist, sexist, or any other derogatory name or adjective. I didn’t have any of the symptoms Tomi Lahren claims are in direct result of chronic snowflakeism. Still, because I thought something was appalling, I was apparently a snowflake in this individual’s eyes.

In an effort to reassure society that multiple viewpoints won’t kill ya, we’ve pushed through to the other extreme, where if you don’t accept all viewpoints, you’re in the wrong.

Adopting the idea that any and all viewpoints are acceptable under the premise of free speech goes against all that free speech was originally intended for. Free speech was never meant to be about full acceptance and support of all ideas. Free speech was and is about allowing all ideas to be heard; there’s a distinct difference.

Free speech exists to allow for rigorous debate, not to say that all things go. In fact, free speech exists so that repugnant ideas can be heard and recognized as repugnant, therefore leading to their rejection and extinction. Free speech was never to give cover to repugnant ideas as acceptable under “free speech.”

Free speech doesn’t exist to discount decorum or respect. It exists for rigorous, civil debate. Free speech protects ignorant speech so others can hear how ignorant it is. It does not exist so affirm moral relativism, nor to diminish standards. In fact, it exists to do the exact opposite.

The next time you hear someone say, “don’t be a snowflake,” ask yourself what it actually means in the context of the conversation. Is it a fair warning that “thoughts and ideas won’t hurt you” or is it a dismissal of your personal beliefs and standards?

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