Some topics are taboo and that’s okay

Oh no, I did it again! It’s foot in mouth disease once more, because I spoke before my brain could approve. What was once a small pond of taboo topics to avoid has become an ocean, and I always seem to dive right in. 

In my family, survival is avoidance. My granny insists on three topics never to be discussed at the dinner table: politics, religion, and the weather. The weather ban is because once my uncle starts, it’s a two-hour lecture on the exact amount of rain we’ll get. But politics and religion? Too controversial to touch, so we steer clear.

I am not a political person, but I am a person. I don’t like to read the news, but I am not ignorant. I sometimes wish I was, because being ignorant is so comfortable. However, at university, avoidance simply is not an option for me. I wonder if maybe the ocean of taboo is so easy to fall into because we have become too sensitive. 

Students today are the generation that grew up on the internet. We have heard before that overexposure to explicit content has desensitised the young. So, maybe being more sensitive or more politically correct is a very natural response. The so-called ‘censorship’ by younger generations is an attempt to take a stand. 

The so-called ‘censorship’ by younger generations is an attempt to take a stand

Discrimination is becoming passé to society as a whole, but students have always been more politically correct or censorious than the rest. The difference today is that more students and young people are engaging in the conversation. The conversation has also become all-encompassing since having the internet at our fingertips. 

The rise of ‘cancel culture’ has caused people to feel too scared to voice their opinions. But taboo topics have always had a place in society, so it is possible that the claims of older generations like ‘You can’t say anything these days’ are a longing for a time that never existed. 

This is not reason enough to blindly support cancel culture, but it places emphasis on why taboos should exist. Some subjects become taboo simply because the debate has reached a clear conclusion. To bring these debates back to life is what actually hinders free speech, because it shows that we can’t move on. 

Students today are more sensitive, but that is not inherently a bad thing. It becomes dangerous, however, when we raise our voices without having done the proper research. Occasionally, I’ll provoke a controversial topic at the dinner table, much to my granny’s dismay. It’s good to contrast and compare opinions sometimes. But at least she knows that I will never bring up the weather. 

CARLA ERASMUS

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