Silence is the enemy of progress. But hate is also an enemy, and in our modern era of prolific social media, the hateful voices are amplified like never before. People see something that has been posted online and assume that simply because it exists publicly, that somehow gives it a degree of credibility. With fear-mongers haughtily harping on regressive dreams of an unjust yesteryear, we are bearing witness to a level of open hatred, willful ignorance, and backwards opinions that have greater audiences than ever. While these attitudes likely already existed within their discriminatory hearts, the robust echo chambers that social media provides is like a strong gust of air to the lungs of a raging forest fire. Extinguishing the hate requires equally ardent voices battling the burn.
As a journalist proudly educated at a Jesuit university, I have been trained to seek and report the truth. But over the last 10 years that I have worked in journalism and website development, I have noticed that there is a pervasive myth that for journalism to be balanced, it must give credence to all sides of an issue. The reality is there are many times when doing so would actually conflict with that first obligation to seek the truth.
To cite drastic but relevant examples, if I were to report on the very real issues of human trafficking or the use of child soldiers in war, it would not balance my report to ask the traffickers or war lords why they felt justified in their actions – we can all agree that although morality is subject to interpretation (i.e. “subjective”), human trafficking and exploiting children for warfare are objectively abhorrent practices. Nevertheless, the sad truth is that there are people who defend these actions, perhaps not directly but subtly – by tolerating child pornography or believing that even if using child soldiers is repugnant, it’s not our place to opine on someone else’s war.
In public policy, we might consider these kinds of issues “wicked problems”: They are complex, have many dynamic components, and there are no easy solutions. Solving these problems is a feat of creativity and endurance, and it requires coherent, progress-oriented dialogue. I hope that this website can become a point of genesis for this kind of progressive dialogue.
Week after week, the stories in the news invoke heartfelt reflections on the society that we share, and when I post these thoughts to my social profiles, I am encouraged by the small but genuine number of people who wish I could share these essays more broadly. Alas, I have sent them to local and national newspapers – the supposed gatekeepers of the news – and all I have heard is crickets. In my own humility, I can reconcile with the possible reality that while my reflections resonate with me and my close circle, perhaps the editorial boards simply don’t feel that my words would be as share-worthy as other submissions. Or perhaps they feel that my perspectives are too divisive or too progressive. I doubt that, but I can’t know for sure.
It has made me wonder – how many other progressive voices are out there, yearning to be heard and hitting concrete walls? How much louder could the progressive roar rumble if there was a more accepting platform? It is my hope that this can be that platform. For your voice. For my voice. For all progressive voices.
That said, I am beholden to integrity, and integrity requires stringently enforced standards. While we welcome all submissions, there are a few things that you can expect from this site, whether you are a reader or a writer:
The most important characteristic of all pieces published here is a progressive orientation. While I am not aiming to further polarize the political battleground, I also think that there is real danger in giving a platform to anti-maskers, anti-science, anti-progress voices. True progress is a result of mutual respect, equity and inclusion, and this site will always screen out any submissions that promote exclusionary ideas or support inequity.
Style and grammar are also paramount. Language is our weapon in the battle against hate, and we will sharpen it with proper spelling, formatting, mechanics, and style, in accordance with our Style Guide. But if you’re a writer – don’t worry, that burden is on our editorial team. We’ll make sure it looks nice and sharp before we publish it. That said, we will work diligently to preserve your voice and formatting; if you use rich text elements like bolding, all-caps, or other clearly intentional style choices, we will not modify that. After all, it’s your voice we want to amplify. Note that we also value web accessibility, so formatting like italics and underlining will be adjusted in accordance with accessibility standards.
What about profanity? In high school, one of my teachers had a sign above the door that said, “Swearing is a way of making ignorance audible.” Hell no! Words have meaning – all words, including profanity. In fact, the purpose of profanity interjects profane situations. We certainly don’t want to create a forum that sounds like you’re below deck on a pirate ship, but we also don’t want to tamp down or censor emotion. If there are no other ways to express a point than with a curse, then we will not redact that.
Beware: These aren’t articles! How many times have you heard someone say, “I read an article that said…” and then they tell you something that is clearly an opinion? Opinion columns are different than hard news articles; they are different structurally; they appear in different sections of a newspaper; and they serve different purposes. This site focuses exclusively on elevating progressive opinion pieces – essays & columns and media. We hope that our writers will root their reflections in fact, and if we do happen to catch something that is flagrantly false, then we will reach out to the writer to let them know. We are not in the business of creating misleading propaganda or championing partisan politics. Our gospel is simple: Elevate progressive voices.
Finally, I hope that all readers and writers approach these pieces with a degree of humility. The goal is to advance the conversation, but that doesn’t mean that every writer has received formal sensitivity training or is equipped with all of the right vocabulary. Derogatory language will never find a home here, but this will be a safe space for young writers to find their voice. As readers, we encourage you to challenge perspectives and use this as a place to share your experience if you disagree with how a topic is addressed, but this is not a forum that will tolerate hostility. Writers must understand that in submitting their work, they are opening themselves up to constructive criticism and education; they are willing to share how they see the world and listen to how you perceive it.
This is our space. Be bold. Be loquacious. Advance the dialogue.