on liberty

Review :

Anybody interested in free speech must surely be concerned with the situation of Bret Weinstein in the US. See for instance his hour interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watchv=-fEAP...

One can only be deeply ashamed that non-conservative media has (I understand) all but ignored this story. Curious to have a statement of why this is so, I've written to NPR to find out why they have not reported one word on it. I am waiting for a response.

Meanwhile, John Stuart Mill's words to remind us of what is at stake. The students who are behaving so disgracefully, who have no interest in truth and most certainly no interest in free speech (except theirs, of course) would do well to heed his words, so timely in a period in which groups of thugs rule and noises on social media make do as replacements for truth, for philosophical contemplation and the like.

What could be more apt than the following words on social tyranny I note in particular from what Weinstein has said of his situation, that is isn't even the lack of coverage by the left, craven as that is which is most disappointing. What is really disturbing is the number of people who support him in private but will not stand up in public. This is a terrible world we live in where thuggery has won and free speech is a thing of the past. To think that it is the left of centre that is creating this situation, too scared to stand up for this elementary principle, and that it is conservatives who are filling the vacuum is a truly depressing state of affairs.

"Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own."


"The principle itself of dogmatic religion, dogmatic morality, dogmatic philosophy, is what requires to be rooted out; not any particular manifestation of that principle. The very corner-stone of an education intended to form great minds, must be the recognition of the principle, that the object is to call forth the greatest possible quantity of intellectual power, and to inspire the intensest love of truth: and this without a particle of regard to the results to which the exercise of that power may lead, even though it should conduct the pupil to opinions diametrically opposite to those of his teachers. We say this, not because we think opinions unimportant, but because of the immense importance which we attach to them; for in proportion to the degree of intellectual power and love of truth which we succeed in creating, is the certainty that (whatever may happen in any one particular instance) in the aggregate of instances true opinions will be the result; and intellectual power and practical love of truth are alike impossible where the reasoner is shown his conclusions, and informed beforehand that he is expected to arrive at them."

I'm afraid even this is pertinent:

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice, - is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.
"The Contest in America," Fraser's Magazine (February 1862); later published in Dissertations and Discussions (1868), vol.1 p. 26

How can great minds be produced in a country where the test of a great mind is agreeing in the opinions of small minds

It might be plausibly maintained, that in almost every one of the leading controversies, past or present, in social philosophy, both sides were in the right in what they affirmed, though wrong in what they denied.

All lifted from wiki quotes.


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