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Free Speech / Defusing Stress

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Date Host George Noory
Guests Dr. Michael Shermer, Dr. Laurie Nadel

In the first half, author and skeptic, Michael Shermer, discussed why free speech is the foundation of a free society as outlined by the First Amendment. We should counter hate speech with free speech and not censorship, and controversial thinkers must be given their due and not censored under any conditions for any reason, he argued. The moment you set up any suppression of speech or thought that is codified into laws and norms, "then, what's to stop that turning on you, when you become the minority position?" he pondered. For example, he pointed out how many Christians are happy to have laws slanted toward their religious views. But once you set up majority preferences like that, say in a century from now, if Muslims are the dominant religious population in America, the minority will be disfavored. "Wouldn't it be better to have the laws favor no religion at all?" he asked.

Shermer talked about defending the right of Holocaust deniers to speak (it is illegal in some countries for them to do so), even though he vehemently disagrees with them. We can always refute their arguments or ignore them, but the last thing we should do is censor them, he said. He related this to provocateurs and commentators like Milo Yiannopoulus and Ben Shapiro, who have been banned from lecturing on college campuses by liberals on the claims that they are propagating hate speech. Regarding the proliferation of "fake news," we have to allow it, he continued, as who will be the arbiters of what is real or not? In an interesting historical footnote, he detailed how back in the 19th-century, autocrats wanted to close down coffee houses because patrons of the cafes were gathering to talk about the government.

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In the latter half, author and psychotherapist Dr. Laurie Nadel addressed the acute stress plaguing so many people right now. Acute stress is what happens when we come face to face with mass fatality events, and the brain floods us with horror and helplessness. Symptoms are almost identical to PTSD (which had been declared a national epidemic back in June 2019), she reported. Signs of acute stress include fatigue, nausea, weakness, headaches, anxiety, fear, guilt, grief, irritability, and panic, and this can particularly apply to first responders, she cited. Further, the isolation and confinement during the pandemic are causing many to have the above symptoms, as well as outbursts of anger-- domestic violence rates have gone up, she noted.

Some stress signs like a dry cough can be mistaken for COVID-19 symptoms, she cautioned. There are three aspects to a lingering trauma like the pandemic that can threaten our survival, she listed-- the loss of control, the loss of safety, and the loss of identity. These can take a big toll on our psyche, she added. We are in the midst of a spiritual emergency or crisis for the planet, Nadel remarked, emphasizing the importance of de-stressing through meditative techniques or relaxation exercises. She recommends turning your phone off for an hour a day, finding time for inner calmness, and tracking moments of happiness. During this crisis, she is offering complimentary 15-minute "emotional first aid" sessions that can be scheduled via her website.

News segment guests: Lauren Weinstein, Steve Kates

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