Sunday, July 29, 2007

Reasoned Debate in the Free Marketplace of Ideas

Here's an opinion column that Josh Levy wrote last January in the student newspaper of the University of Virginia:

Preserving a Free Marketplace of Ideas

Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, Europe was plagued by continual religious wars. But Europeans learned a valuable lesson from the years of turmoil: tolerance. The only way to coexist without violence is to accept religious differences and allow standing rules to trump private judgments. Sadly, the University is forgetting these foundations of Western democracy.
[ . . . . ]

The fundamental question, then, in the "struggle between authority and liberty" is how we can be tolerant and still respect the rights of the intolerant. Again, Mill has answers. He posits two reasons for permitting people to express false opinions. First is the classic "marketplace of ideas:" The more free and open the exchange of ideas is, the more likely individuals are to abandon flawed beliefs. Second, public debate forces opponents to evaluate and examine their own beliefs. Therefore, by permitting students to express racist comments we allow the University community to publicly reaffirm its commitment to tolerance and diversity.
[ . . . . ]

Ryan McElveen, chair of Diversity Initiatives for Student Council, is working to institute a diversity pledge for first-years. There could be no greater misunderstanding of diversity. Diversity does not mean asking students to sign pledges, forwarding invective e-mails, or punishing anyone for expressing their views. It means the exact opposite: remove all the regulations and restrictions and allow the free exchange of ideas, no matter how offensive. Seventeenth century Europeans realized this is the only way for society to progress; I hope one day members of the University community will learn the same lesson.

Well, Josh, why don't you read your own columns? If you really want to convince the American people to, you'll need to Be A Man! and engage, at least in the Battle of Ideas.


At 29 July, 2007 15:17, Blogger a progressive crank said...

Well, the obvious retort to Mr Levy is to ask why his blog has a comment policy that seeks to restrict open debate. I'm starting to wonder if we can take Mr Levy seriously as a patriot who really wants to win the war.

At 29 July, 2007 18:37, Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

Well, while I could make a sardonic comment concerning Mr. Levy's lack of diversity on his message board, it is painfully obvious from his blog title he is only interested in incestuous amplification of his own stated position.
Which is:
Why don't more Americans (OTHER THAN ME) go and fight in Iraq!


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