- "Fine. Suppose you were hosting an event, or a group. Aside from
complaining and dreaming of a better tomorrow, would you
actually do something about this?"
Yes. I would be selective about who it is that I allow to
step inside my door. If I witnessed the sort of ideological
witch hunt going on that I have described, I'd throw the
perpetrators out. If they wish to return later on, they would have
to offer convincing apologies on their return. Words, by
themselves, shouldn't be adequate either, there should have to be
actions, as well. To begin with, I would express a public
repudiation of the attitudes leading to the actions, and some
effort on their part to promote tolerance for the ideas they
attempted to suppress, made publicly and conspicuously. Further,
if the person they attacked has a project of any sort, which their
efforts would have undermined in any way, they will be expected to
volunteer some of their time to its completion, in any reasonable
fashion as decided by the injured party. (An insincere expression
of support, would not be considered as such).
I don't want the offending parties to merely be able to offer an
easy, private apology, and comfortably return to continue their
politicing the moment my back is turned. I want to see real
repentance, expressed through real action. Forgiveness may begin as
a free gift, in the sense that the cessation of hostility is
instant, but its preservation is not. The one who is taken back,
is taken back on a provisional basis, and must earn back his full
standing as a member of the community, and continuing right to
remain, through his efforts to make right, the things he did wrong.
That is, to undo the damage he has done, or at least compensate for
it, both to the victim, and to the social contract, which his
actions served to undermine.
The same principles apply if it is freedom of expression, rather
than freedom of speech, which has been undermined.
- "Isn't this going to have a chilling effect on the very discourse
you seek to preserve? People will have to worry about whether
or not their arguments will get them thrown out of the group.
Doesn't this run contrary to the ideal of openness that you've
No, not at all. I wouldn't be "shooting first, and asking questions
later". If I saw the discussion start to move in the direction of
the kind of verbal abuse I described, I would seek to end it
through gentle correction, not exile. The kind of sanctions
described above, come into play when gentle correction is ignored.
- "In the above, are you saying that the group can work through
anything, and forgiveness is always a possibility?"
Up to a point, but only up to a point. If we reach the point where
a crime has been committed, the authorities must be brought in
immediately, and the exile would be permanent. It's the law, to
begin with. I'm not about to consider compounding a criminal
offense, or leaving myself or any organization of which I'm a
member open to the kind of liability that allowing a known criminal
to remain, would expose one to.
Also, it's a question of prudence, and concern for the others.
One simply doesn't have the resources on hand to deal with that
kind of problem, and one just can't risk it. Violence or theft get
you booted out of the group. Period. No appeal, no pardon.
Beyond this, the question becomes one of how far the person went.
For example, if the offending party tried to get someone fired from
his job, or tried to break up his marraige - those are life
altering events. Even if they became legal, we can't have that
going on - the price of attendance would become so harsh, that one
would have to be insane to come. Thus, the one acting forces a
choice between his own exile, and the exile of the prudent innocent
parties in the group, the latter having been allowed no voice in
whether or not such a harsh choice would be necessary, while the
former was free to avoid this choice. As an expression of our
respect for the value of self-determination, we accept the general
principle that such a dilemma, must be resolved to the benefit of
the party who has not knowingly elected to force it. In this case,
our principle would compel us to choose the exile of the offending
party, our reason validating what we see as common sense.
- "So, freedom of speech and thought will be absolute in this group
we are considering?"
No. We have already noted that there are certain principles that
must be accepted before a meaningful discussion of morality can
even begin ...
Further, as we've indicated above, the right to speak freely shall,
like many rights, extend no further than that point at which its
exercise shall start to deny the free exercise of that right by
another. In particular, it would not reach so far, as to permit
one to engage in the sort of coercive politicing described above.
This much is simple justice, and consistency. If we choose a course
of action that allows freedom for one, how can we justify not
granting it to another, through that same course of action? Why
does the freedom of the one imposing (namely, the intolerant
politicer) count, and not that of the one imposed on? If we were
to accept, as a matter of principle, that such an imbalance of
rights - such a right to impose - could exist, then why does it
exist for the intolerant politicer, and not for the one who would
be intolerant of his intolerance? Here, the existence of an entity
is postulated - the existence of a difference between the rights of
two parties identified purely on the basis of the roles they assume
in this hypothetical conflict. Occam's razor calls for this
postulation to be defended, if it is to be accepted at all.
Also, the Politically Correct will not be welcome, nor shall
their constrictive attitudes. If I wished to be smothered, I'd
move to the Bible belt where at least I could enjoy better weather
as it happened.
- "Isn't that hypocritical? I mean, first you talk about the
importance of freedom of thought, and then you cast out an entire
school of thought. And what's this, with those seven principles
that we're supposed to accept?"
No. To answer the first point, I would ask if the Politically
Correct have a history of promoting a tolerant environment for
the expression of views dissenting greatly from their own. If
we are to be honest, we must admit that the answer to this question
is "no". Even in places where they have been shown tolerance
themselves, they've historically refused to show a reciprocal
tolerance. This has allowed them an opportunity to succeed in
promoting their views, by creating an uneven playing field when
dealing with their opposition.
Where their opposition is in the majority, the expectation - not
always stingently enforced when they violate it - is that all may
speak freely, unharassed. Where they are the majority, this
expectation is forgotten. In practice, this means that those forums
that are theirs, are almost invariably theirs to keep, and those
held by others are negotiable. This gives their side in an argument
an advantage in no way dependent on the strengths of their points,
but merely on how gullibly willing their opposition is to play by
their rules. This reduces the likelihood that the process of
discussion will find its way to the truth, if the truth is not that
which the unfairly favored side (the politically correct) favors.
To assert that such an uneven arrangement should be agreed to,
then, is effectively equivalent to asserting that one should just
assume one side to be in the right, without its ideas being
subjected to scrutiny, if one agrees that the truth is something
that the argument should arrive at. As people base their decisions
on their views of reality, which are rooted in the outcomes of
such exchanges, to mean well at all, requires one to grant this.
Even if, contrary to the evidence of our own eyes, one believes
that one will be miraculously guided to a good decision, in one's
conceptual blindness (if one's view of reality is too far off),
the aforementioned razor of Occam's requires a defense of this.
None has yet been provided, and the record of History suggests that
none ever could. Consider the many occasions in which a growth
in man's knowledge, or advancement of his point of view, led to an
improvement of the quality of life, and try to square this with the
notion that we will be guided to good judgements in spite of
ourselves, should we cease to care about the truth.
From the point of view of one granting this ludicrous request,
the choice asked for, is for him to base his view of reality on
little more than an unexamined guess that the ones making it, just
happen to be the one's who are right. The question to be asked, in
evaluating a procedure for validating an assumption, is, if the
assumption is wrong, will the procedure be likely to reveal this to
us. It is unclear, how an unquestioning embrace of an arbitrary
stranger's opinion, based on nothing more than his stubbornly
hypocritical belligerence, would be likely to do so.
So, in response to the question, we would be doing nothing more
than giving balance to a rhetorical situation in bad need of it.
- "Dandy. Now, what about those values you mentioned?"
If our discussions can never get anywhere, for reasons we discuss
in the discussion branching off from the mention of "enlightened
civility", then how meaningful is our freedom to hold them? To
ask us to keep our doors open, to those we have nothing to talk
about with, is a roundabout way of demanding that we give up our
own freedom to discuss, develop and promote our point of view.
If those of an opposing point of view, on these basic points,
wish to bar us from their meetings, no problem. Their company
is not of the sort that prudent individuals would desire.
Unlike the Politically Correct, it would not be our objective to
be everywhere, so none could gather to discuss dissent from our
point of view, without that discussion being disrupted by someone
sympathetic to our viewpoint. We seek to prevail by the strength
of our points, not by how well we're maneuvered in order to control
the floor of debate.
Choices, now, depending of where you came from (and want to go) ...
- return to discussion of uniform base code of morality
- return to praises of dictatorship