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Free speech is about the quest for Truth.

7 March 2012

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience above all liberties,”

- Milton

I have tried to keep in mind while posting on this blog over the past two years, the need for exercise some decorum, civility and charity. I think that in most cases I had been successful in doing that. There have been a few posts, particularly early on, that I regretted and later took down, but overall I have tried to be respectful of my readers.

Over the past few days though I’ve gotten a little bit of criticism from a few readers (three). It has come from people who seem to have read a recent post of mine as having been in support of Rush Limbaugh’s use of a vulgarism to refer to Sandra Fluke. They were, of course, mistaken. The nasty comments and cancelled subscriptions that I got in response to that post have me wondering about the reading comprehension of the people sending them. Because the statement I made that promiscuity is not an attribute of a virtuous person does not seem so very shocking to me. If it is really out of bounds in our culture today to say that, then we are much further along in the decline of our civilization than I would have thought.

I think that it was clear in my original post that I was not supporting Limbaugh’s offensive language. Any one who has read his blog for any length of time will know that I am far, far from being a fan of Limbaugh. I only commented (negatively) on Limbaugh, as an intro into what I thought were more serious comments about religious liberty and taking personal responsibility for our choices. No one seems to care about the religious liberty/personal responsibly questions though, they’d rather just go into hysterics and fall on their fainting couches. I’m sorry if you are disappointed in me for not speaking up in favor of promiscuity. But the truth is that not only do I think it is immoral, but it is also degrading to human dignity. I think that young people who engage in promiscuous behavior and cohabitation in their early adult years are making it more difficult to give themselves fully to a healthy longterm marriage later on. And I think that it has a significant negative impact on the security and well being of women and children.

It seems that on both the political left and the right, we have come to a place where it is considered acceptable to behave like little children who cannot stand to hear a considered opinion that violates our own personal ideology. These overgrown children, whether they are Republican or Democrat, rarely allow their own ideas to be tested, because to be compelled to hear the dissenting views of others hurts their feelings or offends their delicate sensibilities. Instead of actually listening to arguments, like the one I was trying to make, some people want to just ignore that and instead malignantly caricature any person, institution, and idea that doesn’t align with their own narrow ideology.  And always this is done with the genuine conviction that when others do it, they’re evil, but when we do it, we are justified because we are good and they are evil, and anyway, they started it.

John Cook of the liberal website, Gawker, had a very good column about the whole episode and how it reflects on the state of what passes for political debate these days. I recommend reading the whole article, but here is an excerpt:

“I am sick of spending all my time talking about how we talk about what we talk about when we talk about policy, instead of talking about actual policy. I am sick of recriminations and demands for retractions and counter-retractions and shocked outrage and line-drawing and line-crossing and apologies and non-apologies and boycotts and petitions. I am tired of watching every national debate inevitably pirouette out of the realm of morality, or merit, and into a rhetorical funhouse where insults bounce from mirror to distorted mirror. It’s our dominant mode of political debate now: We don’t evaluate arguments for their logic or elegance or force (or lack thereof), but for their appropriateness relative to metrics of racism, sexism, patriotism, religious bigotry etc.”

With a few embarrassing exceptions, most of my posts have been written with the expectation that readers will understand and accept a little nuance. From the sorts of responses that I usually receive, I think I am correct in thinking that. I intend to keep on writing in the manner that I have been doing over the past two-plus years. If you find anything worth reading here then your company is greatly appreciated. If you want to make a comment either agreeing or disagreeing in a reasoned way, those comments will continue to be welcome. Rigid ideologues and emotional hysterics are not welcome.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. 7 March 2012 3:20 pm

    I sincerely appreciated your response today referencing your recent post regarding Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Fluke. I must admit that I thought the same thing as apparently 3 other upset readers. I was stung by your words and frankly a bit surprised that your post bothered me so much. After some reflection, I realized that I was not bothered by your positon on the subject or your opinion or your theology but your WORDS. It did appear that you were aligning yourself with Rush’s personal attack on Sarah Fluke instead of opposing the issue at hand. Interestingly, you quoted this today, “I am tired of watching every national debate inevitably pirouette out of the realm of morality, or merit, and into a rhetorical funhouse where insults bounce from mirror to distorted mirror.” I have consistently found your posts to be interesting, thought provoking and well worth space in my over crowded inbox. But your recent post was the first one that was particularly unkind. So thank you for clearing up the misunderstanding today. I appreciate debate and welcome diversity of thought but not when it includes hurling insults and personal attacks. Wouldn’t it be nice (and a good and joyful thing) to speak the truth and to encourage civil debate while being kind to our neighbors who might think differently?

  2. 7 March 2012 4:13 pm

    Why is there no provision for unsubscribing from this blog. I hate it. The writer took NO responsibility for his comments about Sandra Fluke and supporting Rush Limbaugh and he DID say that supports Rush in this case he DID.

    PLEASE, PLEASE UNSUBSCRIBE ME FROM THIS BLOG

    • 7 March 2012 4:59 pm

      Sarah, I’ve been trying to figure it out and, as far as I can tell, I am not able to unsubscribe you. I think that you have to do it yourself. Isn’t there a place to click on “unsubscribe” on the post that you receive in your e-mail? Or maybe you can just mark it in your e-mail as spam so that it will stop coming to your inbox.

    • 7 March 2012 6:39 pm

      Sarah, I sent a message to WordPress asking how to get you unsubscribed and this is the answer I got.

      “It’s not possible for you to remove subscribers manually.
      You can ask your reader to unsubscribe by clicking on the Unsubscribe link in the emails they’re receiving, or by visiting http://subscribe.wordpress.com
      Don’t hesitate to contact us again if you need anymore help.”

      There you go. Have at it.

  3. 16 March 2012 7:36 pm

    I was a little startled by the article you reference, but I didn’t take offense because while I think Limbaugh is… let’s just say that I don’t like him… I took your meaning to be a moral stand on promiscuity. As I agree with you in that area, there is little merit in my not being offended. In any case, I appreciate your words here.
    I desire to be free to say what I think, and enter into intelligent, respectful debate with those who think otherwise.

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