What captures my attention in the above video is Prof. Jordan B. Peterson’s stream of consciousness description and defense of free speech (15:43 to 16:58) which I have transcribed below.
And so we need to start talking and listening.
And when you talk it doesn’t mean you’re right.
It doesn’t mean you’re correct. Right?
It means you’re trying to articulate and formulate your thoughts like the boneheaded moron that you are.
And you are going to stumble around idiotically because what the hell do you know.
You are full of biases, and you’re ignorant, and you can’t speak very well, and you’re over emotional.
And you know you’ve got just problems that you can hardly even imagine that are interfering with your ability to state something clear.
And so what you do is you do your best to see what you mean.
And then you listen to other people tell you why you’re a blithering idiot.
And hopefully, you can correct yourself to some degree as a consequence of listening to them.
And you see that is what free speech is about.
Because it isn’t just that people can organize themselves and their societies by thinking.
You can’t do that because there is only one of you.
What you have to do is you have to articulate your thoughts in a public forum.
So that other people can attack you and hopefully in a corrective manner.
And then you wanna, you know, step back a little bit.
And think okay you know I was a little arrogant there, and a little over emotional there and I didn’t get that quite right, and maybe I am outright biased on that front.
And you want to correct what you say because then you correct how are you are and then you can correct how you act in life.
And then you correct your society.
And the degree to which we limit freedom of expression we put all of that at risk.
Later in his introduction (17:51 to 18:24), Prof. Peterson makes the point that freedom of speech is not just another value but the mechanism by which we keep our psyches and our societies organized.
I love the way above that he describes how free speech works – a sort of “group thinking out loud” in pursuit of a better understanding of the world and ourselves.
I can understand the need for limitations such as hate speech legislation but it is a fine balance, and like Prof. Peterson, to my mind, I feel we need to be extraordinarily careful not to undermine the freedom of speech. It is one of the reasons I am so passionate about the role of dialogue in our lives.
- Article: What you can’t say.
[Status: work in progress. I plan to comment on this more fully.]
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