Free Speech . There is a barrage of talk on free speech these days .. the war on free speech , freedom of speech rights , where to draw the line on free speech , what constitutes freedom of speech? the list goes on, and on . This blog is not about answering those questions or queries but to highlight a very cool , very progressive forum we have recently found that encourages free speech in a personal way .
In a world and climate of unknowns of free speech - it is refreshing that the Free Discussion Society exists and it exists within our tiny community of Fullerton Ca - What pray tell is the Free Discussion Society you might ask ? Well , Project La Femme set out to find out just that !
After meeting Bam Paul at our last event and finding out that he runs a salon style forum for the hot button topics plaguing our society day in and day out - we knew we needed to see what it was all about. So what is it about ? The Free Discussion Society is a group formed by Bam Paul for people to get together, answer their thoughts and feelings on the presented topic - and gasp .. talk about it in person ! Yes, you read that right .. not by commenting on a Facebook feed , not by sharing an article on someone Else's thoughts that reflect their own ideology , not by having heated words via Twitter - TALKING IN PERSON ! It might not seem revolutionary, we have all been talking to each other since we could format our thoughts into language - but in this day and age where posting a meme via social media seems to be the norm of expressing our feelings on any given subject , talking seems really refreshing.
So you might be thinking .." so you just got into a room with strangers and talked about a hot topic , so what ? " Well this is precisely why we felt the need to go - " What is this all about ?" was the main thought.
Well for starters let me talk you through what we experienced. Once a month Bam does his thing at Max Blooms coffee stop in Fullerton. We showed up , got some hot tea ( regardless of the fact that it was nearly 100 degrees on the 15th of October) We sat down , more people filtered in until there was about 20 - 30 people gathered on couches , cafe table seating and random chairs. Several people greeted us , asked if it was our first time etc. It must have been obvious that it was .. but no one seemed to care and several people mentioned they'd been to at least ten of these. I had no idea what to expect- just that the prompt was "What needs to be done about the issue of homelessness , who is responsible?" Honestly , I was hoping to be a fly on the wall , listen intently and that would be it. I was wrong ( just a side-note , I'm really thrilled I was wrong about this)
SO here is how this Free Discussion Society works .. Bam began by telling all the participants that he will be doling out Scrabble tiles , we will be going in order from A-Z , and that we were to speak freely on the topic/prompt of the night, after everyone has had a chance to speak we would go around the room again and Bam would ask for more insight from us.
What ?!! I have to speak on a topic in front of strangers ! Do I even have any thoughts to contribute , are they even worth hearing - So after the fear subsided - I figured lets just go on this ride , let's see what happens. So we started at A .. everyone in the room , whether prepared or not, spoke. It was insightful , and even though some radical answers came from a few participants everyone listened....intently. We went around the room again and some compounded on their thoughts , some spoke about how others thoughts were perspective changers for them and they would take them into consideration.
You might be asking .. why doesn't she tell us some of the thoughts .. what were the answers?. Well , I thought about making this a book report and sharing the answers , comments , musings of the other participates as well as my own .. but at the end of this experience my thoughts are this - The topic matters .. however it matters more that this forum exists and if you get the chance to experience this for yourself - you should. If you live in Fullerton or anywhere near - go to the Free Discussion Society. If you don't ... talk to people , in person. We hide behind our screens and we hide behind the idea that talking to strangers or even those we know about hot button topics is off limits - It's not. If we all start talking and LISTENING !! ( that's the big one) in person , we might get a better understanding of topics and others perspectives. That's it and I for one am thankful to have had the opportunity to attend the Free Discussion Society and will be back.
Also - here is an awesome article on the Free Discussion Society and some more info.