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We live in suburbs filled with people of similar incomes and political leanings and consumer choices.
The limitless smorgasbord of online news shrinks in practice to silos of selective reading or, alternatively, "hate-reading".
No wonder that those who disagree with us become distant, indistinct, an undifferentiated bloc of idiots or reactionaries.
This includes pro-gun speech, speech that voices approval of Israeli apartheid in Palestine, speech that voices approval of the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers, speech advocating oppressive economic systems, anti-feminist speech, anti-environmental speech, anti-healthcare speech, anti-immigration speech, climate change denial, and any other ideologies which are harmful, hateful, and/or dangerous.
To wit: disagreement with my personal moral and political persuasions (and those, presumably, of most people I know) should be illegal.
This means that to silence those who disagree with us is, ultimately, to weaken our own understanding of an issue.
Multiplying restrictions on freedom of speech disadvantage all of us.A couple of months ago Time magazine was trying to shame Mark Zuckerberg for failing to ban anti-vaxxers from Facebook; just this week, Clementine Ford has suggested that the views held by people of Christian or any faith should be excluded from Australian political life.Ideas about family or gender that differ from her own are not be engaged with and refuted, but simply taken off the table.Because of intermarriage and other demographic factors, most Americans have traditionally (or even been related to) someone of a different faith (for our purposes, read: political allegiance, sexual orientation, take on the current hot-button issue). We chuckle at the moment in the 2009 film The Blind Side when Sean Tuohy turns to his wife (Sandra Bullock) after they've just hired a high school tutor and says bemusedly, "Who'd have thought we'd have a black son before we knew a Democrat?" Yet how many of us count people with significantly different views to our own among our friends? The proverb is hyperbolic, of course; entering with empathy and a genuine effort at impartiality into the reasoning of someone whose ideas are alien to us won't necessarily lead us to agree with them.But it will almost certainly help us to judge them less harshly, and to hold our own opinions more humbly and less aggressively.It will make it impossible for us to write off vast swathes of our countrymen and women as blind and bigoted. His long essay appeared in the London and Westminster Review, in 1838, and was collected in book form the following year.Commenting on the instinctive tendency of people to want to look upon any man who has become distinguished, Carlyle is not willing to state that Scott was a great man, but at least he was noteworthy.It has been said that John Stuart Mill's classic work, On Liberty, should be compulsory reading for everyone who wants to participate actively and honourably in a democratic society. "All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility," Mill insists.He notes that, while most of us will happily admit to not being infallible, we are less capable of acting as though we aren't: Few think it necessary to take any precautions against their own fallibility, or admit the supposition that any opinion, of which they feel very certain, may be one of the examples of the error to which they acknowledge themselves to be liable.