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Opinion: Our democracy is not well served by silencing dissenting opinions
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A portion of Jim Crow Road will be renamed in Flowery Branch, but it is so far unclear when the road sign will be replaced. - photo by Scott Rogers

“Cancel culture” has become a reliable way to achieve upward mobility, establish social connection and identify allies and enemies by isolating people who have violated ideological rules about race or gender. 

The phrase itself is suggestive: we can cancel Netflix subscriptions or smartphone services, so why not cancel human beings through reputation destruction and social exile?  

“Canceling” has become an entertaining hobby — an indulgent, dopamine-feeding activity practiced on social media until its cruel practitioners, ultimately bored, follow the algorithms elsewhere.  

History cannot be changed and should not be erased. The First Amendment was placed first for a reason. It is the bedrock of our nation’s ability to overcome despots like Hitler and to abolish slavery. However, it comes at a price. You may hear things you don’t like or make you uncomfortable. You may see statues or places like the name of "Jim Crow Road" that offend you because of what they represent to you. But you also see works of art like the Declaration of Independence. You cannot have one without the other.  

To limit speech or erase history because you do not personally like it, or because it doesn’t fit your narrative, is a step towards fascism. Personal liberty is sacrificed.  

Seeing statues fall, books being burned, road names changed because you don't like the name, does offend me. To do so as a mob outside of legal avenues is oppressive.  

The “cancel culture” seems bent on violently erasing parts of history that it deems repugnant, instead of learning and healing from how those stories were made.  

My voice should not be silenced. I should not be considered an “ally” or an “enemy” based on reasonable but different views I hold than you do.    

Learning from our history and evolving does define us and our country. Individually and as a country, we are a mix of good and bad. Do not judge groups by the actions of a few. Do not erase history because we do not like what we see.  

In this case, I really believe that if the road name is changed, what next? What is the next complaint from the BLM movement? It is never gonna stop. This road represents good times for a lot of us who were raised in Flowery Branch.  

I played softball at the ballfields there. I went to Flowery Branch Elementary. I learned to drive on that road. That road name means more to us than most people think.  

It is not associated with the "Jim Crow Laws," and even if it were, what good would changing the name do? Why are the powers to be bending down to these groups, and at what point are they willing to say "enough is enough?" 

Stephanie Bennett 

Flowery Branch   

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