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Marlon Jones

Gear Up Liaison, Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education: GEAR UP

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"...but I'll defend to the death your right to say it… Really?"

Voltaire once said “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it” Would I? Really? While maybe not dead, civility is definitely paralyzed in our country, in our communities, and in our homes. At what point did it become easier to antagonize, patronize, and vilify the “other” instead of conducting a reasoned discussion about the perplexing issues that surround us? Well into the machinations of the most recent elections it was being reported by various media sources that Americans were more divided than during any other time in history. There is simply something that does not sound quite right about that statement. Is it possible to have an honest and reasoned discussion? Is it possible to objectively consider an opposing point of view? Do we even agree on what the problems are? Disagreements are inevitable but being disagreeable is not. What do you think?


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  • Nov 15 2012: On the issue of "I will defend to the death your right to say it," I think this is a cornerstone of democracy. Greg Dahlen's post brought up a situation where one person says, "bananas are the best food." Now of course no one is going to die to advance or dispute this theory, it's not worth it.

    However, imagine living in a society where the only correct opinion is "apples are the best food." If you happen to like bananas more and say so openly, you get sent to prison for a year. This is a situation where, yes, I would die to defend that crazy banana lover, because it is an unalienable human right to be able to express your opinion. If a government attempts to take away natural rights, the public has to fight back. If not, they will be forced to submit to the will of those in power.

    I think in America today, people assume that they have ultimate freedom and power. The reality doesn't bear this out though. We do have many freedoms, but also many limitations on those freedoms. Similarly, each of us has power to affect our democracy, but some have much more power than others. And in a way, it seems that our freedoms are being slowly pulled away at the same time we are being reassured that we are the free-est nation in the history of the world.

    It's up to each of us to defend our human rights. This isn't a battle that was won long ago, it's a struggle that continues to this day around the world. History has shown us that if the populous does not defend their rights, the elites will diminish them. And that is just as true today as it was during the French Revolution or in the Roman Empire.

    Great question, Marlon!
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      Nov 19 2012: Wait! Greg said bananas are the best food? Are you serious. No way Greg, you take that back!

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