It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.

It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.

(Voltaire)

Is it wise to believe too much that you see posted to Facebook? Can you rely on what people say they believe in?

Voltaire has had quite a good week this last week thanks to the madness that we’ve seen in Paris. Several people have posted his saying

“I may disagree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”

Now that’s good, that’s commendable. I entirely approve. But still I wonder. How sincere is this sudden conversion to the principle of “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend?”

I thought I’d try an experiment, but at that point I remembered another quote from Voltaire. “I am very fond of truth, but not at all of martyrdom.”

So I’m not trying the experiment, I’m going to ask you, dear reader, to conduct a thought experiment.

Try saying the following things, obviously some of them will be more difficult for some people than for others, but hopefully you’ll be able to sincerely work your way down the list and come out at the end able to cope with them all.

“I quite understand that you might find Tory philosophy offensive and why you would not wish to entertain people who believe in it in your own home.”

“I quite understand that you might find homosexuality offensive and why you would not wish to entertain such people in your own home.”

“When looking back at the miners’ strike one has to accept that the members of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers took a decision which I disagree with but I defend their right to make that decision.”

“Whilst personally I feel that Margaret Thatcher may have been wrong in some of the things she did, this is no reason to demonise her and those who still respect her actions.”

“Whilst I personally have not suffered economically from immigration, I realise that there are those who have and their opinions are just as valid as mine.”

“Ched Evans has served the sentence imposed upon him by a court of law, and thus should be free to take up his profession again.”

And so our American cousins don’t feel left out

“Whilst disagreeing with much in the Democratic/Republican agenda (delete as appropriate) I have no doubt that those in favour of it are decent people, sincere in their beliefs, and whilst they may be wrong, they have the best interests of our country at heart.”

Well can you say them? Are you willing to defend to the death the right of others to say them?

Funnily enough Voltaire said a lot of things

voltaire

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10 thoughts on “It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.

  1. ashokbhatia January 10, 2015 at 2:49 pm Reply

    One has to take it with a pinch of salt!

    • jwebster2 January 10, 2015 at 5:07 pm Reply

      People perhaps don’t think through the consequences of their good intentions

  2. The Story Reading Ape January 10, 2015 at 10:04 pm Reply

    That last quote is a profound one Jim, it certainly makes me think and more certain than ever that we, as a species, have been strolling blindly up the completely wrong track in the dark woods at midnight with our eyes firmly closed!

    • jwebster2 January 10, 2015 at 10:49 pm Reply

      Douglas Adams was not far from the mark with his ‘Peril Sensitive Sunglasses’. “Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses have been specially designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude to danger. At the first hint of trouble, they turn totally black and thus prevent you from seeing anything that might alarm you.”

  3. M T McGuire January 12, 2015 at 10:28 pm Reply

    This is the best post ive read about this.top, top stuff.

    • jwebster2 January 12, 2015 at 10:55 pm Reply

      Thanks MTM, I’m backing away quietly from the issue now (he promises himself) because otherwise I’ll start saying things I might regret 😦

      I’m supposed to be selling books, not moral philosophy 😉

      • M T McGuire January 12, 2015 at 11:03 pm

        Well the lovely thing is that you’ve said it, so I don’t have to!

        Cheers

        MTM

      • jwebster2 January 13, 2015 at 6:02 am

        “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good
        men to do nothing”.

      • M T McGuire January 13, 2015 at 7:18 am

        They came for the gypsies but I wasnt a gypsy so I did nothing, they came for the communists but I wasnt a communist so I stayed silent, they came for the Jews but I wasnt a Jew so I didn’t say anything. When they came for me there was no one left to speak out.

        cheers

        MTM

      • jwebster2 January 15, 2015 at 8:58 pm

        Absolutely true!

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