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IMO it is important that people be able to discuss unpopular ideas and to share unpopular viewpoints. Many of the beliefs that are commonly held to be acceptable today were once unpopular. Also, if you haven't challenged your ideas, you likely haven't thought them through very well, which is an intellectual failing. However, as kleinbl00 states, it matters how you communicate your ideas, for if you aren't willing to respect your audience, then your audience has little reason to listen to you.

Of course, it is difficult to feel respect for those that hold some beliefs, particularly those that do not respect other groups of people a priori. For example, if someone proclaims to hate obese people, should I be expected to speak to them respectfully? Some might argue that if a person is unwilling to give respect to a group of people, then they do not deserve to be given respect in turn, even from those they do treat with respect. IMHO this is a mistake. I do not believe it is fruitful to engage ignorance with a lack of respect, and I think there is plenty of evidence to support this. Furthermore, I don't want ignorance to pull me into combative exchanges where the outcome is not in question. I'd much rather be someone that seeks to understand the cause of the ignorance, and when possible, someone that works to reduce it. I know that I have been ignorant, and continue to be ignorant. I know that the path to reducing my ignorance depends in part upon other people.

I am concerned about the extent to which political correctness and trigger warnings have stifled intellectual discourse. IMO the very concept of microaggression is microaggressive. Not one of us is without fault, and no one can understand or anticipate the complete spectra of perception that our words might elicit. To be intellectually curious means to be not so tender that words are dangerous regardless of their context.

In regards to Hubski, I am interested in creating fertile ground for thoughtful conversation. The actual topics being discussed are not unimportant, but the quality of the exchanges are of primary importance. To the extent that the parties involved are willing to tolerate combativeness or a lack of politeness, I am not concerned with the tenor of exchanges. However, if someone does not want to be a part of a conversation, or doesn't want to read it, they should have that option.

Our goal has been and will continue to be to provide fertile ground for thoughtful conversation. The freedom to discuss most any topic is an important element of that formula. However, IMHO the boundaries of the definition of freedom of speech aren't as interesting as many people make it out to be, and I am not interested in exploring the finer points of those boundaries to the significant expense of our primary goal.

by: mk

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jleopold