Delve into danger
PANEL // The blacklist of modern heretics, sentenced to burn in the overheated fires of our indignation, is growing.
The Inquisition killed heretics not for what they did – but for what they believed. Who are the heretics of today: the ones who must be silenced? It’s becoming a long list… prescribed by the arbiters of political and conservative correctness. If a society can’t allow for differences of opinion then what is to become of it? Have we lost the capacity to celebrate those still brave enough to outrage us, preferring instead to bask in the warmth of righteous indignation while the heretics burn?
Germaine Greer was born in Melbourne and educated in Australia and at Cambridge University. Her book, The Female Eunuch (1969), remains one of the most influential texts of the feminist movement. When it was published, the book brought her massive international recognition and during the 70s she became a controversial and iconic figure with enormous media exposure. Greer has had a distinguished academic career in Britain and the United States, and has established a reputation as an iconoclast and a formidable debater. She makes regular appearances in print and other media as a broadcaster, journalist, columnist and reviewer. Since 2001 she has been involved in rehabilitating sixty hectares of subtropical rainforest in south-east Queensland; in 2011, she set up Friends of Gondwana Rainforest, a UK charity, to help in financing that and similar projects.
Megan Phelps-Roper grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church: a group infamous for its intolerance. But dialogue on Twitter showed her another life was possible – and in 2012, she escaped her home, family, and faith. Now, with a popular TED Talk, a major New Yorker profile, and an upcoming memoir and film adaptation, she is a unique example of how empathy can overcome hate, and how tolerance can bridge ideology. As a keynote speaker and educator, she engages with schools, faith groups, law enforcement, and anti-extremism organisations on strengthening human bonds through better public discourse. She has been covered, most significantly, by The New Yorker, The Guardian, VICE, The Globe and Mail, NPR, and other international organisations.
Ayelet Waldman is the author of A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, the novels Love and Treasure, Red Hook Road, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, and Daughter's Keeper, as well as of the essay collection Bad Mother. She is the editor of Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women's Prisons and of Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation. She was a Federal public defender and an adjunct professor at the UC Berkeley law school where she developed and taught a course on the legal and social implications of the War on Drugs. She lives in Berkeley, California.