“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
This was the sentiment the French philosopher Voltaire expressed over 200 years ago in a political climate arguably much more divisive and volatile than today’s.
I’ve been thinking about that quote for the past few days for several reasons. It’s a popular quote (which Voltaire technically didn’t say, it’s more a conglomerate of several quotes) that gets thrown around in editorials, academia, and political science term papers, but how many people really stop and reflect on the weight behind it or its implications?
I mean, sure I would lay down my life for family, friends and my god-given rights to life and property, but what about the one in between? What about Liberty?
Would you give your life to defend a Hollywood liberal’s right to express his views on single-payer healthcare even though it grates on your nerves? A former radical-turned-tenured professor advocating higher taxes as a matter of “civic duty?” And just so the liberals don’t feel left out, how about giving your life to defend the right of a pro-lifer or a neoconservative to express their opinions? Or an advocate of 2nd Amendment rights to express theirs? (C’mon, you’re going to need to protect your rights with something and I’d rather not use a big stick and some snowballs).
Does liberty mean enough to you that it would drive you to defend opinions and speech that are abhorrent to your own views? Or would you only go so far as to only defend your own beliefs? Think about that. Give it some time to roll around up there.
The reason I started thinking about this issue is because of a few comments left on one of my posts from a new blogger. This is a small blog, I know, and not too many outside my circle of like-minded friends are likely to read it so it’s easy to get trapped in a cycle of self-perpetuating groupthink. But how often do we listen to, and I mean really listen to our fellow Americans whose opinions differ from our own? Without condescension or scoffing or name-calling? It’s definitely hard and I’m guilty of ridiculing those to the left of me mercilessly, I admit it. Yet I always try my best to avoid ad hominem and only go for the jugular of the issues themselves. Is there enough respect and goodwill left in society to treat people decently even though they disagree?
Unless you question your own beliefs, you can never truly believe in them. So let others help you. A civil argument once and awhile feels pretty good.
Have it good,
p.s. – But don’t think for a minute that I support that misguided “fairness doctrine.” It’s painfully unconstitutional.
p.p.s – This post from mnDem is exactly what I wanted to read after drafting my opinion for today.
Here’s a few good stories in the news today, and several relate to the new Minnesota legislative session that began this week.
Both of my State Legislators are in the news today, check it out:
Lanning under pressure in bonding bill debate – State Representative Morrie Lanning (R-9A) is apparently being courted by the DFL as potential vote to support the massive bonding bill introduced at the beginning of this legislative session.
Job creation is top priority as Senate unveils capital investment package – This is State Senator Keith Langseth’s (DFL-09) press release promoting the specifics of the “capital investment package.” $999.9 million, really? Just throw in the extra penny and make it a billion, haha.
Beings that I have been a student for such a large period of my life, education reform has slowly elbowed through the other important issues that I try to keep up to speed on regularly. As a soon-to-be college graduate entering a recession-sickened job market with a heavy debtload, I’m more than a bit irritated at the current workings of the “education-industrial complex.”
It’s these concerns that have led me to bone up on and devote a number of posts on a regular basis to K-12, undergraduate and graduate school issues. Here’s the first few links:
Donations to colleges down 11.9% in 2009 – Well at least Minnesota made the list.
Outlook bleak for state-funded college financial aid – Maybe the above story will help out us college students given this bleak outlook. Here’s hoping, heh.
Rulings Leave Online Student Speech Rights Unresolved – Do students have free speech? Where? Courts aren’t too sure.
Woodbury’s going back to school – in August – Deals with shifting the duration of the school year, and not necessarily lengthening it.
Of big tents and tugs of war – Excellent piece on the direction of the Republican party in 2010
And finally, here’s your humor for the day – “How not to design a campaign website”
Have it good,