Opinions should withstand scrutiny

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2001

The first uniquely American jurisprudence was Peter Zenger's acquittal. The foundation of our history and culture is the right to believe, express, and publish as we please. Back that up with the right to bear arms to protect those rights and you pretty much have American constitutional democracy. The rest of the Constitution is mostly about property and process; at least as originally written and construed.

The Empire has a lively editorial page - a good thing. Various editors and publishers have indulged my penchant to take keyboard to hand, and I appreciate that. I admit that I think a goodly number of the letter-writers are self-absorbed morons, but I will defend to the death their right to demonstrate their ignorance. Which fact brings me to the subject of this writing.

The loony left of our community has chosen to attack the editorial staff of this newspaper for offering their own view of events. To whom does the paper belong? The Empire is not a welfare program for people who cannot get paid to write or speak - Public Radio serves that function. The paper has a right to express its own view and to publish the opinions of those who have controversial and even divisive views. Where outside a government school is it wrong to be divisive? If I see it one way and you another, have we not established a division? There are only so many verses of Kum-Ba-Ya we should have to memorize.

It is incomprehensible to me that representatives of the most extreme opinions in this community seek to represent themselves as moderates. I guess it is just the hangover from a time when we could not quite define what is is. I make no pretense of being a political moderate. I believe it, and that settles it, but that is not the subjectivist fallacy that the other side should automatically attack. If I believe it, I have thought about it, not just felt strongly about it. An editorial page is a place for opinion, hopefully well thought-out opinion. If you have an opinion, you should be willing, even eager, to subject it to the scrutiny of contrary opinions. It is not enough to have the guts to express your opinion; you must have the guts to withstand others expressing an opinion contrary to yours. After all, if you are a good liberal who celebrates diversity, how can you say I am wrong, am I not just different?

Art Chance


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