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You Don’t Have to Call Me “Doctor.” “The Prince” is fine.

You Don’t Have to Call Me “Doctor.” “The Prince” is fine.

Joseph Epstein, who is an American writer and editor and author of quite a few books, recently wrote an incendiary column published in the Wall Street Journal op ed page, castigating Dr. Jill Biden for using “doctor” as an honorific, even though she has an EdD. He generally mocked its legitimacy and questioned whether any PhD-type designation was proper to use at all. Of course, this created a firestorm of fierce feedback, both against the concept and his inappropriate target of the (term I hate) “First Lady”-elect.

I’m with the fire-stormers, fine. That’s my opinion. I respect Epstein, but he’s wrong on this one, and rude as well.

However, the backlash has reached its own absurd ends, with people canceling subscriptions and resorting to the usual venom and profanity on social media.

The WSJ’s responsibility, and the purpose of an op ed page, is to present ideas, not to pander to or try to please the readership. To cancel subscriptions and “blame” the WSJ for presenting a controversial opinion seems to me to miss the point of intellectual discourse and debate. The WSJ published many of the letters critiquing Epstein’s piece, as well.

I’ve had people cancel subscriptions (to my FREE newsletters!!) which they’d read for years because of one piece that wasn’t consistent with their belief system. I welcome their departure. If you’re so insecure and threatened by other opinions or a challenge to your views that you have to run away and hide from them, well, there’s not much I can do for you.

I don’t write to please people, I write to make them think. I’m not here to convert or persuade, only to provoke thought. The rest is up to you. And I do feel if I’m not making someone, somewhere, uncomfortable every day, then I’m just not doing my job.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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