Civility and free speech: another case

Dr. Sanity takes note of a complaint by ombudsman Howell of the Washington Post:

This is the community that whines most about “free speech” and accuses everyone who disagrees with them of limiting their rights–as they actively seek to shut you up. They will now use you as the example they have been searching for to demonstrate the “conservative” bias of the media–simply because you dared to suggest that they are not perfect.

If you haven’t noticed, Ms. Howell, this does not happen much when you point out the inconsistencies or hypocrisies of the Right. Of course, there are despicable people on both sides of the political spectrum who do not feel that they should have to resort to reason and logic to justify their “arguments”. Who simply direct all the vitriol and vomit within whenever you question their ideology. But I think you will find that, on the whole and compared with the Left, the Right is a paragon of virtue in this area.

This is touched on from another direction by Dr. Sowell in his column Are Facts Obsolete?

What is more frightening than any particular policy or ideology is the widespread habit of disregarding facts. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey put it this way: “Demagoguery beats data.”

Even institutions that are set up to pass on facts — the media, schools, academia — too often treat facts as expendable and use their strategic positions to filter out facts which go against their own preconceptions.

In other words, Dr. Sanity, Ms. Howell, and Dr. Sowell are all talking about the same thing. There are people who know what is true for them, do not want to hear anything that will challenge their truth, and respond with a significant degree of hostility to any source that exposes anything that does not help them maintain their world view. In such conditions, new ideas cannot be tolerated and opinions and suggestions cannot be explored. There can be no fruitful debate or argument as there can be no learning to come from it.

And, as all three of these people have noted, the most severe cases of this lack of intellectual integrity are positively correlated with a common ideological leaning. It must change and a start on this change is by exposure and visibility. Only when there is transparency and people can see themselves as other see them will there be a hope for improvement and honesty.

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