This post is part of the series Free Speech
Other posts in this series:
In my previous post, I showed that objectively offensive speech falls into two categories. False speech can be punished by law, while disrespectful speech cannot be. Free speech by itself cannot solve the problem of a lack of respect in speech, but neither can any law. Laws only make the situation worse. Respect can only be encouraged by virtue and sound reason, which require a good education, which in turn requires free speech.
Respect for others cannot exist without a love for others. If one despises other people, then one cannot respect them. One will ignore their opinions, deliberately misunderstand them, attack them and do many other wrong things both in speech and in act. But the highest virtue of all is love. Therefore, one who loves another will certainly respect them. So it is obvious that respect requires love.
But virtue must include intellectual virtue (sound reason) in addition to moral virtue. In order to act wisely, actual understand one another and actually be respectful, one must think correctly. If we merely have the moral virtues without the intellectual ones then we will act with good intentions towards others while treating them disrespectfully, especially if they are different from us in any way. We will simply be unaware that we are doing so.
Our present environment is not one that encourages either of these things. Multiculturalism often turns into an exercise of ignoring cultural wrongs because they are in a different culture. Sensitivity training (of all kinds) encourages one to avoid criticizing other beliefs and values for fear of causing a subject offense. These sorts of trends ought to be soundly rejected. Instead of these horrible ideas, one ought to promote an equal and free criticism of all ideas based on the pursuit of truth. Anyone, no matter who, can be criticized. Any argument can be criticized. But the goal of all criticism is discovery of the truth. Similarly, right and wrong are known to all. Therefore, children ought to be trained to do what is right from birth.
In order to carry out these things, two areas of our society need addressing. Our culture is completely wrong on a number of things. Therefore, the correct culture ideas need to be promoted and encouraged while the incorrect ideas are publicly mocked. In private and academic areas, the arguments against these false ideas ought to be widely publicized along with the arguments for the correct ideas. The correct ideas include the nature of reason and virtue. Some things are wrong, and if someone’s feelings are hurt by that proclamation, then they should change their beliefs.
In order that this whole process does not become a matter of indoctrination, it is necessary to maintain free speech. The difference between indoctrination and education is that the former convinces people without using reason, while the latter uses reason to convince. If free speech does not exist, or is limited in some way, then the area in which it is limited is one in which indoctrination rather than education will occur. Sound reason requires that the evidence and argument for all sides are fairly explained. Limiting this in some way amounts not just to a limitation in free speech, but is also indoctrination.
Next, I will discuss the issue of sensitivity and why this is a pitiful reason to limit free speech.
Continue reading this series:
Privacy, Sensitivity and Free Speech