This is a great point. You put into words something that’s been bothering me lately as people have descended on some of my provocative posts with pitchforks out. I figured I was doing something right if I was getting such a strong response, but it got me wondering if I’d been too provocative. Some of the comments really seemed entitled. For example, several people expressed something like you describe, that I needed to be nicer, kinder, smarter, more mature, etc. or else my writing was not worth their time (which begs the question, why did they engage with it?). Still, I kept wondering, why should I need to modify my voice to suit these people’s sensitivity? And they have the nerve to say I’m being PC?!

I even saw a discussion in one of the Facebook groups recently wondering why all the front-page stories take such “strong stances” and why the authors didn’t understand that there are “shades of grey.” I got the sense that these commenters weren’t necessarily critiquing the argument structure, but rather were offended by some of the stories’ provocative nature. They don’t like hearing about the problems of marginalized groups because it makes them feel uncomfortable. They want those stories to be “grey” because it would make them feel better. And of course, we’ve recently had people going around reporting such stories to Facebook in an effort to silence those writers.

Your story encourages me to keep writing and not dilute my argument or voice for the sake of protecting people’s feelings. You’re absolutely right: writing is a powerful means of pushing people outside of their comfort zone. As writers, we have a duty to do so.

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Writer by day, circus artist by night. I write about art, media, culture, health, science, and where they all meet. Join my list:

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