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March 09, 2005

Comments

Alex Rowland

Thanks, Rob. I have the smae feelings about the effort to ban any voices that don't agree with the current consensus of what is morally right at that specific moment. Fifty years ago, it wasn't very popular to talk about getting black America integrated with white America (at least in many parts of the country). Now the opposite is true. Start talking about racism, and a few embarrassed heads might turn. This is not healthy dialogue, this is fear of the collective taking action against the individual. Even if I disagree with these alterate world views, the most damaging thing I can do is work to silence the voices originating these ideas. (This only leads to eventual backlash.)

As a society, it is the mavericks, those with outlandish ideas, that have driven us forward in leaps and bounds. Silence those that you don't agree with and you'll wind up silencing the very voice of progress so critical to our survival.

Rob

That's pretty intellectual stuff! Yes, we should strive for a culture of competing ideas and resist the tendencies towards a big-brother, single source of wisdom. You say “no ideas too crazy to reach an audience, no opinion too extreme to yield a loyal following”. If the world were peopled with reasonable folks like you and me this would be fine – but unfortunately it isn’t!

For example, propagating Nazi ideas is a very sensitive topic here in Germany and there are regular discussions about introducing new laws to restrict the activities of neo-Nazis. Coming from the UK, my instinct is to oppose this and say “let the screwballs say and do as they please. A healthy society should be able to handle that stuff!”

I suppose that’s the issue: do we live in a healthy society which can generate the required auto-immune response? A lot of people thought this when the Nazis first appeared on the scene! But the dangers from the other extreme, (Fox & Co.), are of similar magnitude. We need something to counter the trend to an ever smaller number of large and powerful media companies.

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