Talking Authentically about Tricky Topics
Olive Branch Press · 2024
Coming in May 2024.
It’s Debatable: Authentic Discussions about Tricky Topics offers a path toward a deeper, richer public conversation than might seem possible in today’s polarized political climate.
It’s Debatable: Authentic Discussions about Tricky Topics offers a path toward a deeper, richer public conversation than might seem possible in today’s polarized political climate. Robert Jensen writes for those who yearn for debates based on evidence, reason, critical self-reflection, and mutual respect. The book offers a model for how to engage others rationally without discounting the powerful emotional component of our lives; how to think for oneself and at the same time recognize that thinking is a collective enterprise; and how to defend strongly held political positions while inviting critique. It’s Debatable demystifies intellectual life and encourages rigorous thinking by ordinary people, to better equip citizens to participate in political life.
Jensen has logged 10 years in journalism and 30 years in academia, along with decades of community organizing in feminism and on the left side of the political fence. As a journalist, he learned to write clearly and concisely. In his teaching career, he got pretty good at explaining complex things to students. In his public speaking and writing, he presented radical ideas in ways that didn’t scare off people. This book draws on all those skills.
In polarized times, many people want to step back from the intensity of political disagreements that seem to escalate in a flash, leaving no time for reflection and little room for constructive engagement. Offering a robust defense of freedom of expression, Jensen moves beyond platitudes to articulate intellectual standards that can help us clarify our political disagreements. Then he wades into some of the most contentious debates of our time: the insights of Critical Race Theory in a white-supremacist society, the confused and confusing ideology of transgenderism, and the nearly universal cultural denial of the need for limits to population and consumption.
Jensen’s defense of freedom of expression starts with thinking freely, which is a prerequisite to speaking responsibly, which is required for living authentically.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Where I’m coming from
Chapter 1: Stepping up: Contemporary controversies (woke and cancel culture defined)
Chapter 2: Stepping back: Thinking (basic epistemology for everyday life)
Chapter 3: Stepping back: Speaking (the balancing act in freedom of expression)
Chapter 4: Defining racism: Beyond individual bigotry (a defense of Critical Race Theory, with friendly suggestions)
Chapter 5: Defining sex/gender: Beyond trans ideology (a critique of the ideology of transgenderism, with friendly suggestions)
Chapter 6: Defining ecological sustainability: Fewer and less (reckoning with harsh realities)
Conclusion: Where are we going?