How Overton Window works in a Society?

If you denounced the religion in the past, you would probably be killed by some radicals or tortured by preachers.  It would be hard and difficult try to change the way of thinking of the society. However, some people was able to do it despite the difficulties which they faced.

The society has always nestled in a “Window” which Joseph denoted it clearly in his measurement. Joseph Overton (4 January 1960 – 30 June 2003) was a senior vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy by 2003. He was worked in many countries and contributed lots of things not only to the think tank centre but also the world as well. Overton died in a plane crash at 43 near an airport in Caro in Michigan State.1

His theory about the “Window” gained currency through over the world and used to speculate and envisage the new ideas. It is obvious how novel thoughts penetrate to the knowledge of the society. Its sequential actions and steps which intended to achieve some goals in society “may be more effective than nuclear weapons to destroy human communities”, says columnist Evgueni Gorzhaltsán. Newly emerged concepts, such as pedophilia, LGBT, cannibalism and etc. now on their way to influence the mentality of people. Many years ago no one could freely announce the belief of the minority publicly or advocate their rights. But now we can see how LGBT groups openly declare their views and even show their flag, create their flirt apps, forums and etc. Once they were hiding, but as they began to spread their beliefs, it worked though it took a long time.

If you look on the internet about cannibalism, you may even find methods for thorough cooking of meat (human) or become a healthy cannibal and so on. It is frightening and unacceptable right? In 2014, Margo Kaplan who is an associate professor at Rutgers School of Law–Camden, wrote an article “Pedophilia: A Disorder, Not a Crime” in The New York Times journal. That is an influence to the thoughts of a society. With the help of Overton Window we will nail it thoroughly. overton_window_diagram-svg

The Overton Window illustrated on the right is a graphic with square-like form and an axis permeating through it and the steps beginning with “unthinkable”, “radical”, “acceptable”, “sensible”, “popular” and “policy” ranging from More freedom to Less freedom and vice versa. Let`s see how it works.

Think society in the inside Window and chose the idea, for example, pedophilia. Right now the pedophilia is a dramatic and an unacceptable concept. It means, the window, i.e. society, should be slipped to the unthinkable stage depending on the freedom of idea in the society or the political spectrum (left or right).2

In the first stage, one man stands out of the crowd tell their ideas which afterwards change the mindset of a society.  When idea stands in the unthinkable stage, even uttering that thought will be fatal for everyone, whereas the bold ones whisper it with some other ways, particularly, with writing, depicting or with just saying it as though they are doing scientific research about that. As scientific or some other methods of investigations are not challenged by people. With that way, the idea somehow makes a den for itself in society as taboo and the people who want to change the approach, conveys it to the radical stage.

In the second stage, after a small influence, the idea becomes well know by the members of a society and if someone refuses it or criticise it, some marionettes assail them with rage and wrath. After some debates, some people begin to contemplate the questions “if we do it”, “why not” and so on. Then that idea becomes as not a crime but as a disorder and it transmits to the acceptable stage.

Then in the third stage, the idea passes to the sensible stage with announcing the right of people as a democratic person or telling the in the unconscious state whatever person do is not a crime, it is just an illness with giving some examples from real life or history.

When it comes to the fourth stage, the media illuminate the idea with lots of shows, movies, computer games and etc. which after some time the sensible becomes popular and everyone knows about it as if it is not weird. On the internet, on the TV every week the speech becomes audible in every room and home and the sensible idea passes to the popular stage.

In the last, fifth – policy stage, the society accepts its defeat and do not show any criticism against the idea that once was weird and absurd. After that, the government collects some statistics about the society, examine how the concept implanted in the knowledge of people of the country. Next, the government with solid data heads toward forging a law about that idea and legalise the phenomenon. That notion becomes normal for all people and a part of a social paradigm which the next generation even does not know that the idea was awkward, obnoxious and unacceptable.


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