Public Discourse In These Days Of Rage

People yell.

People lie. Lie boldly, lie big.bullhorn

People believe that an opinion stated is, by the very fact of its utterance, a valid opinion.

I speak, therefore I am… right. Thinking optional.

A plurality of voices is a good thing. It makes for robust dialogue. Limits should be none on who gets to speak, few on what it is they get to say.

That is where the level field stops.

Opinions expressed are not inherently equal opinions. Some opinions come clouded in prejudice, superstition, racism, sexism, classism. They are warped by ignorance, hatred and fear.

Of course, such opinions are allowed. In an open and democratic society, they should even be tolerated. More importantly, treated seriously. These opinions are the building blocks of dangerous social and political movements.

Such opinions need to be confronted. No, let’s not just agree to disagree. You are wrong, critically, perilously wrong. What you’re saying, the views you espouse, are harmful.

Absolutely, you are entitled to your opinions. Hold onto them tightly. fromtherooftopsProclaim them proudly.

Just don’t whine and stamp your feet when they’re challenged. You insist that all opinions are equal? Only if they can withstand scrutiny, bear up under cross-examination, and are open to adaptation when new facts come to light, different views emerge.

Bias exists in every opinion. How could it not? We are all frail-minded humans, subject to whims of fancy, inexpressible preferences, blinkered systems of belief. Objective truth resides exclusively in the realm of mathematics and hard sciences. And even then…

But your bias should always be undergoing inspection, both internally and externally, put through a regular stress-test. Does this point of view still hold up? Am I missing some crucial piece of information that might change my perspective? How many of us hold the same opinions we did when we were 17, 25, 35, 50? Opinions set in stone aren’t really opinions. They’re intellectual artefacts. Evidence of past thinking that (fingers crossed!) has moved with the advent of time, modified by new insights and ideas.

A firmly held opinion should always be suspect, never admired for its intensity but instead, for its rigour. notlisteningAn opinion doesn’t have to be balanced but it needs to come from a place of critical thought and thorough analysis. An opinion doesn’t even need to be fair-minded, only open-minded.

So, opine away. In newspaper editorials. And reader comment pages. Magazine columns. TV news debate roundtables. On social media. From the barstool of your favourite local.

For it is said, Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Period. End stop. And that’s the point when the real discussion begins.

opinionatedly submitted by Cityslikr