"They always say time changes things. But you actually have to change them yourself."
In Lakota culture, the heyoka was the tribe's contrarian. He broke taboos and did the opposite of what was expected, asking difficult questions, and saying things others were too afraid to say, often to comic effect.
In the Seventeenth Century, Giordano Bruno said the stars might be distant suns with their own planets that foster life. It would have been dangerous to publicly hold such an opinion, since it was fiercely opposed by the dogmatic Catholic Church. Indeed, the Church accused Bruno of heresy and burned him at the stake. Surely no one felt comfortable talking about the stars after that.
Free speech facilitates progress! Free speech, free inquiry, the free marketplace of ideas... This is how we got here. As Salman Rushdie once put it, "Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself."
But these days one's speech can get them fired. Dare to suggest, for instance, that differences between cultures may account for differences in achievement (instead of systemic racism), and your skull will be among the dozens on Golgotha.
Our institutions (academia, entertainment, publishing) do not seem to value the free marketplace of ideas. They are, by all appearances, not exploring the full range of voices in our society. Donald Trump may be a threat to our democracy, but so is literary fiction in its current state, which has seemingly become a group of “ideological soulmates,” to quote John M. Ellis, author of The Breakdown of Higher Education. By our light, mainstream literary fiction refuses to offer its readers opposition to established ideas. As a result, there's no "quality control" to readers' thinking. If people are not thinking about the other side, can they even be said to be thinking?
Our reason for starting Heyoka (FKA Healthy Opposition) is the perceived paucity of anti-woke literary fiction (i.e. the other side, literary fiction that in one way or another represents the ideological right). We're committed to man's ongoing disinterested search for truth, and we believe constant exposure to multiple perspectives is the way to conduct that search. In communicating with people we disagree with, we hear things we haven't heard before, thereby comprehensively exploring issues and becoming better informed.
The American Association of Colleges and Universities defines critical thinking as "a habit of mind characterized by the comprehensive exploration of issues, ideas, artifacts, and events before [emphasis added] accepting or formulating an opinion or conclusion." If we're not comprehensively exploring issues, ideas, artifacts, etc., then we cannot claim to be critical thinkers.
We believe people must be free to ask uncomfortable questions. However, those individuals must also encourage pushback, with the implicit understanding that the most muscular argument will carry the day.
Copyright © 2023. Heyoka. All rights reserved.
All other copyrights remain the property of their respective owners.