"Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incite violence." These were just some of the powerful words spoken by Meryl Streep in her Golden Globes acceptance speech on Sunday, January 8. Since then, people have been in an uproar over her actions. To some, she was brave, saying what so many Americans feel, but don't have the platform to say. Other's criticized her, saying that she was out of line, much like the criticism earned by the Hamilton cast last month. In short, Streep took her moment on the Golden Globe's stage to exercise her right to be critical of our current political situation and to use her privilege and audience to start a conversation.

Criticism as a means of change

What Streep did should set a precedent for all other people in her position and even those who do not carry the same prestige she does. She not only expressed her opinion but also set the stage for conversation.

Especially during and after this past election cycle, there has been backlash toward anyone, like Streep and the cast of Hamilton, who choose to be critical of the upcoming administration. But if people like this didn't speak up, there would be no conversation, and no change. We, as Americans, are meant to challenge the system and demand change if we feel like our voices are not being heard. After all, that's what it means to be a democracy, something that this nation has always prided itself on.

In fact, even Theodore Roosevelt himself stated, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile but is morally treasonable to the American public." The President and the government as whole are there to serve and protect the citizens.

Therefore, if a citizen does not feel as if these criteria are being met, they have the right to create a dialogue around it and demand change, or even just express their frustrations. This is part of why the First Amendment was written into the Constitution.

Criticism must come with reason

Is it important to note, however, that there are certain ways in which this dialogue can be created.

Criticism can't be unfounded. For example, Streep herself cited a specific incident - in which Trump mocked a person with a disability. Rightfully so, Streep expressed that this behavior wasn't behavior that she wanted in a President. This type of criticism differs from others, ones whose reasoning behind it is prejudices and hatred. Therefore, calling Trump out on his behavior differs from people not liking Obama based on his race, or the religion some people think he has. However, Streep was completely within her rights, as are many people who are fearful of a far-right Trump administration based on his previous actions.

Overall, we need to keep the dialogue going. We need to call out behavior as we see it, and not forget about it as time passes. If we don't do this, it becomes normalized, and I don't want to live in a world where prejudice, hatred, and fear are the norm.