When to take the debate public

I am an advocate for public thinking. In this era of social media, collaboration and transparency, there seems to be little benefit in keeping ideas to yourself and engaging only with those with similar backgrounds and viewpoints. By opening the conversation up to a larger audience, you can challenge yourself to consider others’ opinions and create a more dynamic and evolving dialogue.

I’ve always found the genetic counseling list serv an interesting phenomenon. From a clinical perspective it is a great tool to disseminate and receive info. But as a tool to discuss professional issues, media articles, political events, etc. I’ve always found it somewhat inadequate. Interesting debates and insights get lost in inboxes and archived folders. A blog, in my opinion, is a much more appropriate and user-friendly way to discuss and document these issues.

Then, about two weeks after the launch of DNA Exchange, Dr. Tiller was murdered. With indisputable relevancy for and impact on the genetic counseling community, it seemed obvious that this event should be addressed here. We asked Betsy Gettig to put some of her thoughts on paper, and I drafted a post.  But as I watched the discussion unfold on the list serv, with all of the uncensored expressions of grief, anger, confusion and hope, I reconsidered the utility of taking the discussion public at that particular point in time. With such an emotion laden and polarizing topic such as late-term abortion, adding a public element to an already difficult disucssion seemed excessive. As simple as it sounds, the experience taught me about the value of our profession’s private discussion list- namely the ability to discuss issues directly with other GCs, and only other GCs.

As some time has passed and I have had more time to digest my thoughts and feelings about Dr. Tiller’s death, I feel more comfortable discussing it online. I still may publish the drafted Dr. Tiller post at some point, and I know others are wanting to write on the topic as well. But for the time being, I am hoping to hear what you think about the benefits of private vs. public discussion of professional issues. What do you believe to be the strengths and drawbacks of this type of forum? What do you hope to see discussed here?

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Filed under Allie Janson Hazell

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