Free — if stupid — speech

Ignorant, dangerous words floating around: a top Minneapolis cop alleged to have called Rep. Keith Ellison – the first Muslim in Congress – a terrorist. Rep. Michelle Bachmann making an opinion about Iran’s designs on Iraq sound like a fact delivered with inside government knowledge.

But listen – people who say out loud what others are thinking do us a service. They get ignorant views into the light where brighter views can take them on. Should a cop who thinks any Muslim is on the side of the enemy be muzzled? No. The answer to bad speech is more speech, not less.

Education, thinking, debate, listening.

In the face of horrible ignorant views and words and deadly violence, Martin Luther King and the thousands of Civil Rights activists didn’t try to shut up the racists. Instead they stood up for themselves (and sat in), listened, and spoke back with love. And they freed not just themselves from legal discrimination, but they began to free whites from our own racial sickness and prejudice.

Words, even hateful ones, can help us learn. 

Sadly, I can’t find any hint of learning in Bachmann’s op-ed piece in the Strib today “clarifying” her words. No indication she understands that she went even a half-step too far in communicating her views as fact.

Joe Klein in Time Magazine writes about Sen. Hillary Clinton’s refusal to say she was wrong on her war vote: “One would think that after six stubborn years of George W. Bush, Clinton would realize there is a bull market for candidates who can admit, and learn from, mistakes.”


One thought on “Free — if stupid — speech

  1. Wow. This is perhaps the single most intelligent thing I’ve ever read.

    On a related note, wouldn’t it be great to hear a politician or another public official say “I was wrong” without an immediately subsequent “…but…”? No qualifiers needed. Makes us think you’re still slinging shit. Just say you were wrong.

    People don’t demand correct, they demand smart — two quite different things.

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