Thursday, April 05, 2007

On open discourse: Colin Cowherd

In devoting a life to ideas, I attempt to stand for, perhaps above anything else, openness of exploration.

This means prioritizing talk. Discourse. Dialogue. Discussion. Everybody should be able to express their ideas. If you don't like those ideas, you should express why. Talk about it. Argue. Even insult.

Society benefits from open discourse. For better arguments than I can make, see John Milton's "Areopagitica" and John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty." These are masterful arguments for free speech and the social benefits of open expression.

If you don't like what somebody is saying, either express why, or ignore it. But you should not respond with violence (see my moniker). And you should not attempt to repress the speech of your opponent.

And so we turn to Colin Cowherd's treatment of The Big Lead (as reported on Deadspin). What Cowherd did is the equivalent of smashing the presses. Instead of expressing his anger, he smashed his opponent's ability to express his own thoughts. You don't have to like what somebody says about you. However, to prevent an opponent from expressing his or her opinions is an affront to an open society (dare I say it, an affront to democracy).

If The Big Lead insults Colin Cowherd, Cowherd should respond by either ignoring The Big Lead, or insulting back. He should not respond by shutting down The Big Lead's forum for expression. If Cowherd merely lashed back at The Big Lead, you could look at the two sides, and if you cared, choose sides. Instead, Cowherd acted to repress what he found to be disagreeable speech. And for that, he is a villain.