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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Can You Handle Diversity in Ideas?

“Mom… are we right about everything?” “Uh….Yes.”

Since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved politics. A few days after I first learned where my family stood on the most pressing issues of the day, I asked my mother a simple question:

Lil Seamus: “Mom… are we right about everything?”

Mom: “Uh….Yes.”

We weren’t.

I mean, MOST things! We were right about most things. But there are a few positions my family held which I no longer agree with. Which means they’re wrong about them. Or… Does it mean I’m wrong about them? Or maybe we’re both wrong about them?

I came from a Conservative Irish Catholic home, but I went to a primary school with students from all sorts of different backgrounds, and we were engaged in dialogue constantly! Yeah, I know most kids aren’t invested in politics, per se, but we all hold strong opinions from an early age and spend a good deal of time defending those views from others. So if we know children can handle exposure to adversarial ideas, why do we insist on protecting college students from them?

See, a few college administrators seem to believe that hearing new points of view can be unsafe or damaging to students on a theoretical level. Ironically, this kind of thinking can actually put people holding whatever view is being demonized in real danger.

In the end, there are only two possible ways of dealing with disagreement… We can talk to each other, working to peacefully persuade others to our point of view, or we can allow our disagreements to devolve into violence and hurt people who hold a different perspective.

Only one of those is healthy for society.

But then again, who knows? Can you trust any of what I’m saying? I did mention at earlier that I’m not so sure that I’m right about everything. Maybe I’m completely full of it. Maybe I’m just… a little bit full of it. Maybe we’re all a little bit full of it, and we have some ideas that are good and some ideas that are bad.

And maybe the only way we can get to the truth is by exploring as many other views as possible until we arrive at the ones that make the most sense!

The belief in freedom of expression isn’t just a single ideal, it’s the single most important ideal for the functioning of our society. It’s the very cornerstone of our search for truth.

And if we remove that cornerstone — no matter how good our intentions might be — everything else falls. So let’s keep it in place! And keep the conversation going!

  • Seamus Coughlin is a comedy writer and animator with a deep interest in politics and morality. A good deal of his work can be found on the FreedomToons YouTube channel.

  • Sean W. Malone has spent over a decade building creative teams and producing content with the goal of effectively communicating the value and importance of human freedom to as many people as possible.