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Marlon Jones

GED Program Director/ Instructor, Wright Career College

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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 20 2012: There is every opportunity for civil discussion and compromise as long as those involved are willing to change their opinion as new facts become available. Facts are immutable evidence, facts do not change; however, new facts do become available, which may require revising our opinions.

    In the U.S. the problem is a very large group of people operate on dogma. For these people no amount of contradicting facts can cause them to change their mind. They simply create new layers of bullshit to explain away the facts. Hence we have people who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, evolution is "just a theory", and climate change is a hoax.

    In light of the obvious fact that most will never accept the science behind the age of the earth, evolution, or climate change, all of which are supported by mountains of facts, it is naive to believe they will ever change their minds on social issues like equal rights for all citizens, or any other idea that conflicts with their dogmatic view of their world.

    Simply put, we are dealing with delusional people. People who have been trained from childhood to be ignorant. Asking them to change is asking them to throw away everything they"ve been taught and believe, everything that defines their entire life. Once someone is fully indoctrinated in a dogma, the likelihood of their ever discarding that dogma and revising their opinions is miniscule.

    Ain't happening. I don't defend their right to be ignorant. I especially do not defend their right to bend public policy to their delusional beliefs.
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      Nov 21 2012: The problem you articulate is not unique to individuals or groups in the United States. There are, and have throughout history, been people everywhere who hold to fixed views, either regardless of facts or by lack of curiosity about the truth of things.

      One sees evidence of confidently held prejudices every day, I think, regardless of country of origin.
      • Nov 21 2012: Fritzie, in general you're no doubt right, as people are people the world round. I like to specifically call out the U.S. so that people know I am not talking about a country or people about whom I know very little.

        There is ample evidence indicating the U.S. is on whole a more fundamentalist religious society, with higher numbers of people holding beliefs contrary to scientific evidence than other Western industrialized nations. My own observation is that once one is capable of believing the Earth is only 6,000 old, it is a short hop to every other wacko belief. We also seem to be a more sexually repressed and homophobic nation, but then I don't get out much.

        Thanks
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          Nov 21 2012: I mentioned the broad geographic range of the phenomenon you mention of some people adhering to fixed views without regard for or interest in facts, because I think people sometimes think such issues are peculiar to the United States. This misconception is held sometimes by people who live in the US as well as those who don't but whose impressions are formed from internet and other media.

          For example, I have noticed in some settings of international exchange of views people who believe that Americans simply don't believe claims made by those who are not Americans, that Americans don't have folk or cultural festivals, that the income inequality in the US is greater than in, say, South American countries, or that there is more inter-ethnic hatred here than in other parts of the world.

          I have noticed some people having the misimpression that Americans feel that they, or America, can do no wrong, when in fact the US was founded on the belief that speaking up when the government seems to be messing up right and left is a very good thing.

          I am just suggesting this issue is one not peculiar to the United States but one that must have some roots in human nature, culture, or zeitgeist, because it appears worldwide.

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