ESQUIRE: The Thought Police Are Bad for Your Kids
February 15, 2019, 11:02 PM
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The editor of Esquire explains the magazine’s cover story about that normal American boy that elicited so much hate:

Why Your Ideological Echo Chamber Isn’t Just Bad For You
It’s also bad for your kids.

FEB 12, 2019

I have a son, a fifteen-year-old. He’s the eldest of three, with two sisters who are three and six years younger. At present, the stress of life for my daughters appears to primarily come from the kind of adolescent rites of passage …

Up until about two years ago, so was my son. Admittedly, the change began when he entered high school, the age when curious kids are expected to start grappling with the cold reality of how the world works. Soon after that, November 8, 2016, rolled around, and national life has since entered what might be called a fresh hell. We disagree as a country on every possible cultural and political point except, perhaps, one: that private life, as a result, has also become its own fresh hell. This has made the very social fabric of modern democratic civilization—watercooler BS, chats with cabbies and total strangers, dinner parties, large family gatherings—sometimes feel like a Kafkaesque thought-police nightmare of paranoia and nausea, in which you might accidentally say what you really believe and get burned at the stake. A crackling debate used to be as important an ingredient of a memorable night out as what was served and who else was there. People sometimes even argued a position they might not have totally agreed with, partly for the thrilling intellectual exercise playing devil’s advocate can be, but mostly for the drunken hell of it. Being intellectually puritanical was considered backward. More often than not, it was all a lot of fun.

These days, most of us have splintered off into our own ideological echo chambers, regurgitating the talking points of Fox or CNN or MSNBC, depending on your taste in agitprop. These are different kinds of safe spaces, ones in which we’ve all agreed to agree, nodding in unison like a herd of bobbleheads. As adults, it’s actually pretty easy to cop out: We don’t have to go to school, that bossy institution that pokes and prods you while people you don’t particularly like get to watch. Add to this the passions and change this moment has unleashed—#MeToo, gender fluidity, Black Lives Matter, “check your privilege,” and #TheFutureIsFemale—and the task of grappling with the world has to be more complicated for kids than it’s ever been.

It certainly seems that way for my son …

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