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(Don’t Fear) The Speaker

Galileo Galilei at his trial

A fear of “others,” — other races, nationalities, or religions — is widely believed to be the reason for today’s popular uprising.

But, more dangerous than the fear of other people, is the fear of other ideas.

It’s normal to feel threatened when confronted with conflicting beliefs, thoughts, or attitudes. To relieve the mental stress experienced by the opposing ideas, an individual may change their stance or behavior.

Another option is to quiet the opposition.

The liberal powerhouses in education have chosen this option. Guest speakers have been uninvited to speak, student groups have been ignored by administration, zones on campus have even been termed as “safe,” restricting speech for fear of offending others.

Not only does this restrict the flow of ideas, it also oppresses those who hold them. And where does the oppression end? Who decides which ideas are suitable, or not?

Often, it’s whoever is in power. The tragedy lies in the fact that many of history’s most divergent thinkers were persecuted for their ideas.

Take Darwin and Jesus, for example. Both were persecuted for their teachings, which went against the accepted religious authority: Darwin was crucified in the press; Jesus was just crucified.

It’s impossible to imagine our world today without these theories and ideas.

So, if you have something to say, say it. Let other people do the same. We shouldn’t fear the other, both people and ideas.

We can learn from both.

Lindsey DePasse is Co-Founder and Executive Director of 1st Amendment First. She can be reached at


Photo Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Galileo Galilei at his trial by the Inquisition in Rome in 1633. Galileo pushes away the Bible. Published: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

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