Friday, February 15, 2013

the politics of enlightenment vs repression

I realized yesterday that my commitment to free speech comes from my belief that it's morally and tactically better to enlighten people than repress them.

But too many people on the right and left love repression. McCarthyists and Maoists march in perfect step to its tune.

I believe enlightenment works best in the long run—revolutions with the best goals have failed when their leaders turned to repression. Good ideas are strong enough to bear critical buffeting. They grow stronger when they're tested. I've said before that I prefer to think of the agora or the commons of ideas rather than the marketplace of ideas, because ideas should not be for sale, but right now, I'm thinking of the realm of free speech as the crucible of ideas—lesser notions burn in the flames as stronger ones unite to make something beautiful and true.


  1. Trying to repress things that are said seems to make people more determined to say them. Funny, that. Give people a choice in what to think and quite often, in my experience, they change their minds.