TED Conversations

Marlon Jones

GED Program Director/ Instructor, Wright Career College

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

"...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?

+3
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Nov 23 2012: I totally agree. But is seems my first comment went a little off topic, so let me put it this way. With freedom we must have responsibility, otherwise its just chaos. What i mean by responsibility as concerns freedom of speech, is to keep a certain distance from the arguments so that you are neither offended nor (purposely) offend others. To put this into practice, i could only suggest teaching people manners. What kind of laws should there be concerning freedom of speech, i couldn't say. But what's your opinion, Should a company be able to bent the truth in order to sell its products?
    • Nov 24 2012: That's a great point about responsibility. One thing I would say about society in the United States (where I live): While the vast majority of people are responsible for their lives and their speech and actions, there will always be a small subset who behaves irresponsibly. It's the job of the rest of us to put irresponsible words and actions in their place (at the margins of society.)

      I think that certainly a company should be (legally, though not necessarily morally) allowed to lie. The question is how much. When you see a sign that says, "world's greatest cheeseburger," I don't feel it is a threat to human knowledge, because any rational individual knows that this assertion has no real meaning. However, if a company says, "this cheeseburger will cure the common cold" I feel that should not be allowed. Overall, the question is very complicated and I don't want to go off topic but maybe sometime I'll make a separate conversation about this, as it's something I have much interest in.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.