Dissent can be defined as active opposition to established public policies or social conventions. The opposition can take various forms, including media campaigns, public protests, and in extreme cases, violent uprisings. Mainstream society often responds to such activities by trying to suppress the dissent.
Many major reform movements of the past have started with the dissent of a small group, or even a single individual. This often arises out of an inherent injustice in the existing order. When the injured person or group speaks out, the established powers may see the protest as a threat to their own privileged position in the society. As a result, in many cases the dissent is quickly crushed. But sometimes the new viewpoint survives and begins to gather support. If it gains enough adherents, what started as a small movement may eventually lead to a major political or social reform.
The American revolution against England began as a small activist movement. The anti-slavery movement in the United States also initially represented a minority viewpoint. Other initially small movements which eventually achieved at least partial success include the campaign for a woman's right to vote, the civil rights movement, and the effort to protect endangered species. Many major religions also started out as small movements which were persecuted by majority groups.
This image of a group of protesters is called The Uprising. It was painted by the nineteenth-century French artist Honore Daumier.
The growth and pervasiveness of the world wide web has made it easier for dissenting voices to reach an audience. Numerous individuals and activist groups have established websites to publicize their beliefs and promote their causes. But the web also makes it easier for other people to oppose these causes. Unfortunately, in some cases proponents of unpopular views have received hate mail and even threats. But many courageous people continue to maintain their sites despite this opposition. As the web expands, and the people of different societies use it to learn more about each other, tolerance of previously-unfamiliar viewpoints and beliefs can be expected to increase.
The Other Voices Directory was created to serve as a guide to some of the dissent that is currently being expressed on the web. Many of the listed sites provide forums which allow people to debate with each other about current issues. Examples include forums which provide an opportunity for discussions between members of different political parties, or between atheists and Christians. In most cases, anyone may join such a forum and participate as a voice in the debates. Some websites also allow people to comment on the articles that are published on the site.
In addition to the main categories, this website also contains a list of weird beliefs associated with various small religious sects. Atheists and religious skeptics sometimes use these types of beliefs as evidence to support their arguments against the truth of traditional religions.
Other Voices does not list websites which advocate or defend any form of violence, or that provide information about how to obtain, build, or use any kind of weapon.