Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Free Market of Ideas

The fact that they believe they will lose the debate without that legal coercion speaks volumes about how confident they actually are in the rightness and persuasiveness of their views.
-Glenn Greenwald

This is an almost perfect encapsulation of what I think every time I come across someone who wants to legislate morality or squelch the other side of any debate or conversation.  If your ideals and ideas can't stand up to scrutiny and can't survive the crucible of reasoned argument and debate, if they can't be compared side-by-side and win on the merits, then maybe you ought to reconsider them, because by refusing to allow opposing ideals and ideas to be aired you are more or less saying outright that you don't think that yours are very strong and you don't have very much faith in them.


Doug said...

I think I'm with you on this, but it does bring up an interesting argument. The right could equally argue that legislating environmental issues was invalid for the same reason. After all, if people won't recycle, switch to more energy efficient technologies, etc. without the force of law in the marketplace, perhaps our arguments in favor aren't convincing enough.

I would tend to suggest that economic behaviors are different than our personal behaviors, and that should draw a clear line, but we don't always win this argument. How do we draw this line in a convincing way?

dallas taylor said...

First off, I would probably agree with that claim. What I had to say goes just as much for the left as the right.

As for environmental and other issues which are amenable to quantification and measurability, I think the arguments become that much clearer once the quantitative analysis has been done. Once outcomes of particular scenarios become predictable, then the argument becomes a question of which is the best outcome and why.

As for issues of personal morality, that's a stickier wicket by far. Not sure if this is the proper venue to go too deep into it, but I suppose my general guideline would be something along the lines of people looking to themselves and making sure that they are living right and well, and let others make those choices for themselves, even when those choices are abhorrent, right up until someone is harmed as a result of those choices, or is likely to be.