20 October 2019 11:49:26 GMT

The Third Rock Forum - Education


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Title : There is a problem with discourse today

Item is Approved.

Date Submitted : 25-09-2019 17:22
Author : Paul G

There is a problem with discourse today. On supposedly serious current affairs/political television programmes, false statements go unremarked; incoherent arguments remain unchallenged; inconsistent points of view expressed by an individual are permitted to co-exist. 

Those few who dare to challenge the decline in public discourse attract unbridled contumely from the establishment and the media. They are stigmatised as pedants, or elitists (now a term of abuse) -  or worse, victims of various forms of phobia or adherents of various unpleasant "...isms".  Accusation of 'xenophobia' will silence those concerned about levels of immigration; 'homophobia' will set strict limits to any discussion of non-heterosexual orientation. 'Racist' will silence anyone who dares to ponder the challenges of multiculturalism. 'Fascist' is used to sully those whose views are right of centre, just as 'communist' is used to put the fear of God into the public if those on the left move away from the 'centre ground'.

Thus, those who rebel against the current liberal consensus are either silenced or tolerated as eccentrics whose sole purpose is not to present an alternative view-point but rather to burnish the entirely spurious assertion that free speech is still alive and well in our society. It is ironic that a society that claims tolerance as its primary virtue should be so ruthlessly committed to the restriction of free speech.

Does it matter? Yes it does for two main reasons:

1. It is alienating many, and probably the majority, in our society who feel their own views are not merely unrepresented but are indeed considered unacceptable.

2. By restricting open debate of contentious issues, it is a undermining civilised society. 

So we need to sort it out. What should we do?

  1. Re-establish free speech as an essential requirement of a civilised society
  2. Assert the primacy of reason; challenge inconsistencies
  3. Apply meritocratic criteria to what people say (i.e. explain to people who make ill-founded and/or irrational assertions that their assertions are ill-founded and/or irrational and encourage them to listen and learn – and then think before they speak.)
  4. Challenge those who are part of the "liberal consensus" by pointing out that the imposition of their strict rules on what people can and can't say is inherently illiberal.