Discover more from Random Minds by Katherine Brodsky
I wrote a book.
I’ll write that sentence once more, so I can convince myself that it’s actually true: I wrote a book.
It took me several years to do it, but it’s now available for pre-orders, which my publisher tells me is extremely important—so I hope you’re able to support this book by ordering it early. I know it’s a big ask, but it means a lot.
I wrote it because of what I was seeing in the world: the increased tendency to silence, shame, bully, and punish those with different views or who have somehow stepped outside the lines of the orthodoxy. After my own experience in 2021, I was flooded with stories from others who have undergone similar ordeals. It inspired me to dig even deeper. What I found, went far beyond what I’ve ever expected.
And yet, when I’d mention the stories I’d hear or read about to my circle of friends, they’d be utterly surprised. Most people had no idea any of this was going on, and especially not at the scale it’s been happening at—at media companies, in the arts, in academia, sciences, and so on. Though, of course, the more I talked about it, the more people would reach out to me to share their own or their friend’s. There were so many.
As result, I ended up spending two years researching this alarming phenomenon and interviewing those who have been subjected to public harassment and abuse. Some of them are names you’ll probably recognize, like Bret Weinstein and Winston Marshall (formerly of Mumford & Sons)—and some are less familiar, but were no less important to include, to illustrate how this affects everyone. A few people in the book also offer important lessons on using one’s voice freely, like Pulitzer/Oscar winner John Patrick Shanley when it comes to being an artist, and activist/musician Daryl Davis, when it comes to talking to even those who we think are beyond the limits of discourse. When I find myself unwilling to talk to someone, I remind myself of how Davis, a Black man who was born in the 50s, managed not only to talk to, but also befriend Ku Klux Klan members—and how so many of them had subsequently given up their robes. THAT can be the power of conversation.
In the book, I argue that it’s time for principled individuals to hit the unmute button and resist the authoritarians among us. But of course that comes at a cost. Still, despite some of the individuals navigating the outrage mob better than others, and some suffering worse personal and professional effects than others, all of the individuals with whom I spoke for the book remain unapologetic over their choice to express themselves authentically.
Through their stories, I uncover lessons that will hopefully help those who I believe to be the silenced majority to push back against the dangerous illiberalism of the vocal minority that tolerates no dissent— and to find and free our own voices.
After all, as terrifying as it may be to speak, our silence comes with a price too. When we are too fearful to speak openly and honestly, we deprive ourselves of the ability to build genuine relationships, we yield all cultural and political power to those with opposing views, and we lose our ability to challenge ideas or change minds, even our own.
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