It has recently come to my attention that a member of this forum has been suspended. Apparently for one thousand years.
I take issue with this. Not just one. Many. You might even say an entire subscription of issues.
To protect the innocent (or guilty depending on your view) lets call this user “Zebra.”
First, I believe that it is necessary to state that Zebra and I have had MANY differing opinions on things that have been posted here. In fact, I had come to think that Zebra must not like me very much, and posted a differing opinion to mine just to irk me.
But occasionally, Zebra’s comments would force me to analyze the ideas I had stated more carefully. And either adapt them, or re-state my case in a better way.
And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is a great thing.
Zebra’s suspension from the forums, having apparently not violated any of the forum guidelines, is an affront to everyone who values democracy, the freedom of speech, and free-thinking.
Let me state my case:
Why is that some people feel the need to silence those who have differing views? In his blog, Mikhail Yaklovev wrote, “Maybe it’s because we like to feel that we’re right. But if this is the case, we need to be careful that we don’t end up eliminating democracy in the process. Since democracy relies on everyone’s ability to challenge those in power. And how can we do that, if people are shamed into keeping their views to themselves?” Indeed. If everyone is allowed to state their opinion, only as long as it is aligned with those in power, we allow humanity to revert to a Draconian society. Yaklovev further states, “…it is inevitable that by silencing others we are making a statement that some views should not be expressed…how do we actually know that our views are correct if we never let anyone disagree?
But perhaps that’s precisely the point. As Zack Goldsmith taught us - there’s no need to justify your views if you can simply accuse your opponent of extremism.”
So if Zebra is just a rabble-rousing caca starter, then his heresy absolves anyone of needing to justify or logically validate their side.
However, it’s worth noting that one is not necessarily entitled to their opinion. Before you, dear reader, blow up in a righteous rage, please read on. Patrick Stokes, a philosophy professor wrote,”I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion.’ Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself, maybe to head off an argument or bring one to a close…You are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for.”
A bit harsh? Perhaps, but philosophy teachers owe it to our students to teach them how to construct and defend an argument – and to recognize when a belief has become indefensible.
The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse…So what does it mean to be “entitled” to an opinion?
If “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion” just means no-one has the right to stop people thinking and saying whatever they want, then the statement is true, but fairly trivial. No one can stop you saying that vaccines cause autism, no matter how many times that claim has been disproven.
But if ‘entitled to an opinion’ means ‘entitled to have your views treated as serious candidates for the truth’ then it’s pretty clearly false. And this too is a distinction that tends to get blurred.”
As long as you can present your view in a sensical fashion, not resort to fallacies in logic or personal attacks, then you should also be free to post in these forums.
However, being the open-minded thinkers that we all are, we also accept that we don’t have to hate someone who disagrees with us (never mind impune, shun, or punish),we also are willing to accept that we make errors in judgement when someone states a better thought-out case and we can change our minds about something without giving up our identities.
Zebra shouldn’t be excluded from the conversation because he’s not posting things that the masses are.
Michael Shermer- an American historian of science, science writer, and founder of The Skeptics Society said, “Have you ever noticed that when you present people with facts that are contrary to their deepest held beliefs they always change their minds? Me neither. In fact, people seem to double down on their beliefs in the teeth of overwhelming evidence against them. The reason is related to the worldview perceived to be under threat by the conflicting data.” Like flat-earthers who offer even more fodder for the nonsense mill when presented with data that doesn’t support their claim. At what point will it be a widely accepted practice that human beings will accept SCIENTIFIC DATA as an approved reason to, i don’t know…CHANGE YOUR MIND ABOUT SOME BOVINE ANIMAL FECES?
I understand, for many people this
is a frightening concept. But you
can do it, I have faith.
But Shermer one upped me, “Creationists, for example, dispute the evidence for evolution in fossils and DNA because they are concerned about secular forces encroaching on religious faith. Antivaxxers distrust big pharma and think that money corrupts medicine, which leads them to believe that vaccines cause autism despite the inconvenient truth that the one and only study claiming such a link was retracted and its lead author accused of fraud. The 9/11 truthers focus on minutiae like the melting point of steel in the World Trade Center buildings that caused their collapse because they think the government lies and conducts “false flag” operations to create a New World Order. Climate deniers study tree rings, ice cores and the ppm of greenhouse gases because they are passionate about freedom, especially that of markets and industries to operate unencumbered by restrictive government regulations. Obama birthers desperately dissected the president’s long-form birth certificate in search of fraud because they believe that the nation’s first African-American president is a socialist bent on destroying the country.”
Is there anyone awake out there?
[By the way, if you’re interested in reading if that article by Mr. Shermer, it’s title is…brace yourself.Better yet- take a seat…”How To Convince Someone When Facts Fail”
And, quite frankly, the fact that THAT article even had to be written is downright disheartening.]
I’m not sure of the source…but someone wrote in an article that people disagreeing with you makes you smarter! I appreciate every single person who dares to think something differently than I do. They keep me on my toes, intellectually. Hold me accountable for my views and the facts that I back them with. Keeps me honest. Whether I like it or not.
We need people like “Zebra” around. This isn’t The Kingdom of Caring, Care-A-Lot, and the Forest of Feelings, kids. We can’t all Care Bear Stare everyone to be agreeable all the time. Besides, Alexander the Great said, “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” And Elizabeth Kenny had, “It is better to be a lion for a day, than a sheep for a lifetime.” Is like to wrap it up with George Washington, this nation’s first president and rather a badass in his own right, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be lead, like sheep to the slaughter.”
Do the right thing PG…