Monday, August 19, 2013

The secret handshake

The piece quoted below makes for a good read.  And I suppose within a cabal the author is completely correct regarding preserving the safety of the group. 

But much of our speech nowadays is of the one on many sort, such as this post, with the speaker not knowing exactly who is in the audience.  So I started to ask myself whether there can be subversion in that setting - more of the form of speaking truth to power - and what creates safety for the speaker in that setting, or if that is even possible. 

For example, yesterday Maureen Dowd had a column that was sharply critical of the Clintons.  With Hillary Clinton the presumed nominee for the President by the Democrats in 2016, the piece felt subversive to me.  In this case Dowd obviously has the support of her editor at the Times and in making her arguments the various points must be fact checked, presumably the standard that good journalism demands.  Those are her protections.

What about the rest of us, who aren't columnists at a major newspaper?  Does the use of irony serve the purpose?  Or is it better to be straightforward, factual and logical, and then let the chips fall?  There is a feeling of safety when composing at the computer screen that may be illusion - we are unable to think through the repercussions that might occur once the piece is published. 

As I wrote last week, I believe for most of us there is a far greater threat than the NSA spying on us.  It is from our "friends" and acquaintances making public information about us that we wish were kept private.  Self-protection in this case would necessitate leading a bland existence and being a Caspar Milquetoast in our social interactions. 

The case of the cabal the exception, maybe the lesson is that for free speech to work people must absorb some personal risk.

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