Tuesday 26 July 2011

To entertain a thought

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle
I too was impressed with the Norwegian Prime Minister’s response of “more democracy, more openness”, in answer to the bombing and shooting in his country that cost so many lives. Yet I also find it instructive that following an objection from the police, the perpetrator was denied a public statement; which was no doubt to the relief of the court. I can certainly understand - and suspect - the reason this action was taken, but I note a wider sympathy for denying him any opportunity to speak.

Democracy isn’t the freedom we are given, it is the freedom we give to others; even to those who commit the most terrible acts. It gains strength not through brushing repellent types under the carpet, but by having the courage to confront those more unpleasant elements. It is a willingness to be challenged. If we really are to shut down debate on some subjects - as a recent Guardian article seemingly suggests we should - then whatever the argument, we’ve already lost.


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