Random ramblings of a mind damaged by years of disuse and abuse. Also a place to go to be bored to tears.
The Random Cartoon
Words to live by...
"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."
(The right to looseness has been officially given)
By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Being both wise and foolish is human nature
This post is going to sound political to many but it really isn't. It's not about party politics, anyway. Bear with me, I think I have a point here to make.
I read something the other day which triggered (as these things will do) some musings. It was a remark made about a certain individual, a "celebrity" if you will. People seem to hate him or love him, very little are in between. He could not do what he does in many, maybe most, countries in the world. He is seen by some as evil, a liar, a bigot. Others view him as clever, wise, insightful. And he does nothing more than talk. 5 days a week, 3 hours a day.
Behind the hate is fear, I think. Behind the love may also be a bit of fear. Yes, I am talking about Rush Limbaugh. But not simply about him but about something integral to the country in which I live. I am talking about Freedom of Speech and its importance to all freedom.
Voltaire is reputed to have said: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." He didn't actually say or write that, his biographer did. Or so I am told. Voltaire said a lot of things. If you read all his quotes (or anyone's for that matter), you will find contradiction and hypocrisy here and there. We pick and choose which bits of wisdom will be lauded and ignore the remarks which do not fit our perception of things.
For example, Voltaire wrote:
"Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror."
"But that a camel-merchant should stir up insurrection in his village; that in league with some miserable followers he persuades them that he talks with the angel Gabriel; that he boasts of having been carried to heaven, where he received in part this unintelligible book, each page of which makes common sense shudder; that, to pay homage to this book, he delivers his country to iron and flame; that he cuts the throats of fathers and kidnaps daughters; that he gives to the defeated the choice of his religion or death: this is assuredly nothing any man can excuse, at least if he was not born a Turk, or if superstition has not extinguished all natural light in him." [about Muhammad]
"It is a serious question among them whether they [Africans] are descended from monkeys or whether the monkeys come from them. Our wise men have said that man was created in the image of God. Now here is a lovely image of the Divine Maker: a flat and black nose with little or hardly any intelligence. A time will doubtless come when these animals will know how to cultivate the land well, beautify their houses and gardens, and know the paths of the stars: one needs time for everything." [about Black people]
"All of the other people have committed crimes, the Jews are the only ones who have boasted about committing them. They are, all of them, born with raging fanaticism in their hearts, just as the Bretons and the Germans are born with blond hair. I would not be in the least bit surprised if these people would not some day become deadly to the human race. " [about, obviously, Jews]
He was obviously full of the prejudices of his time. Yet we think of him as wise. It is only because we are selective in which quotes we revere that we do. The same happens with people like Limbaugh. regardless of whether you love him or hate him, he has made an impact on society. And it is not simply Limbaugh or others who share his ideology, there are his counterparts on the Left. They also say things which can be seen as wise or dangerous, depending upon your own mindset.
Freedom of Speech applies to them all. If you accept one with whom you agree, you must at least tolerate one with whom you disagree.
Voltaire also said this:
"A witty saying proves nothing."
As well as this:
"Doubt is not an agreeable condition, but certainty is an absurd one."
Which, I think, indicates the validity of the infinite monkey theorem:
"A monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare."
Espouse enough opinions and surely some of them will be wise. We each get to choose which are wise and which are foolish.