"I have a right to my opinion."

One hears this a lot from liberals. Indeed, it could be taken as another of the key facades of liberalism. (Facade because liberals don't really mean this when they say it. If the people of some state have the opinion, say, that men should use the men's bathroom, and women should use the women's bathroom, liberals are quite happy to try economically ruin that state for believing that.)

Legally, of course, one has a "right" to any belief whatsoever. But liberals usually mean much more: they mean that morally, everyone has a "right" to their own opinion. That is nonsense. If one's opinion is in error, one has an obligation to correct it, and bring it toward the truth. As Thaddeus Kozinski puts it:

"Of course, the existence of a pluralism of 'truths' is not a good thing, for there is only one truth, and error is the result of sin. Pluralism, in short, must be seen, per se, as a grave defect of spiritual, intellectual, social, and political order."

If you enter a room of liberals talking about how "Everyone is entitled to their own belief about [whether to have an open marriage / whether to engage in one-night stands / whether to go to orgies / etc. ]," try saying this:

"You know I have a friend... a real racist! But hey, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, right?"

Watch the room erupt with anger, getting ready to find this "friend" and drive him from town. Liberals do not believe for one second that "everyone is entitled to their own belief."

What they believe is that every is entitled to believe and think like liberals believe and think.

18 comments:

  1. Gene, let's distinguish between three different statements:

    1. It is not illegal to have any belief whatsoever.
    2. It ought not to be illegal to have any belief whatsoever.
    3. It is not immoral to have any belief whatsoever.

    Liberals would agree with statements 1 and 2, but I don't know of any liberal who would agree with statement 3. I don't think people mean statement 3 when they say "I have a right to my opinion."

    But that said, I do agree that many liberals would disagree with your statement "If one's opinion is in error, one has an obligation to correct it, and bring it toward the truth." They would say that there are some reasons that would make having a particular belief immoral, but that the mere falsehood of the belief is not reason enough.

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    1. Keshav, I have often heard the third usage. Always about sexual morality, however, never about whether it is OK to have an opinion that some race is inferior. That is why I say liberals don't really mean it.

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    2. And, of course, liberals DON'T in practice adhere to to 1 or 2: when a Toronto professor recently wrote that he ought not to be forced to use made up pronouns to address his students, he was threatened with "hate speech" violations of the Ontario criminal code.

      In any case, I have heard the third usage from liberals literally hundreds of times in my life, so your assertion is just factually false.

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    3. And as I said, THEY DON'T MEAN IT: what they usually mean is that "No one can criticize any liberal belief based on any non-liberal ethical orientation."

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    4. It's interesting that you would "Keshav-splain" liberals to mean. You know I live in hipster Brooklyn, right? I can't swing a cat without hitting 17 liberals. LOTS of them agree with 3. Concerning sexual morality.

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    5. Gene, I'm not sure what you mean by saying that they agree with statement 3 on the subject of sexual morality. Do you mean that they say that it's not immoral to have any belief whatsoever concerning sexual morality? I've never heard anyone say that before, and I too have been surrounded by liberals all my life.

      Now I have heard many liberals say that it is not immoral for two consenting adults to DO anything whatsoever in the bedroom, but that's different from the issue of what beliefs are immoral to have.

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    6. "I can't swing a cat without hitting 17 liberals."

      A cat or a bat? If the former, then that is an interesting expression.

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    7. https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=swing+a+cat&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8#q=%22swing+a+dead+cat%22

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  2. A right to my opinion being an individual right, they would naturally say it is the opinion of the user that matters. A right to an opinion doesn't mean others must respect it though. At least they are making their judgment individually. Declaring it an opinion is tantamount to stating it is in dispute and not 'the truth', but at best a personal truth. Who would claim a right to my facts?

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    1. "A right to my opinion being an individual right..."

      Well, a legal right, fine. But as I said, I am talking about a moral right.

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  3. It's just a very vague expression. Two of the main things that I think people mean by it are

    1) "Don't use violence or threats to try to get me to change my opinion when I believe it is correct."

    2) "I'm clinging to my opinion independently of facts (or perhaps in the back of my head I actually know otherwise). Please play along and don't do things that would increase my cognitive dissonance. Act as if you respect my opinion anyway."

    Generally, 1) seems like a noble sentiment and 2) seems ignoble. 1) is not merely a legal right: it's immoral to use violent forms of thought control.

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    1. "it's immoral to use violent forms of thought control."

      Why?

      I think it is perfectly sensible and moral, e.g., for Germany to make Naziism illegal.

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    2. It's part of the received, traditional value system of our society. Freedom of opinion is valued, I suppose, as a buffer against tyranny.

      Note that I described both 1) and 2) as commonly mooted sentiments, and then I described 1) as generally a noble sentiment.

      Many people would make exceptions in extreme cases, such as Naziism in post-war Germany. Even then, I would be much more comfortable with laws that prohibit organising Nazi parties and clubs, or prohibit disseminating Nazi ideas, which are public acts. Laws that prohibit people from holding ideas privately would seem both unprecedented and unnecessary.

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    3. It's part of the received, traditional value system of our society. Freedom of opinion is valued, I suppose, as a buffer against tyranny.

      Note that I described both 1) and 2) as commonly mooted sentiments, and then I described 1) as generally a noble sentiment. Many people would make exceptions in extreme cases, such as Naziism in post-war Germany. Even then, I would be much more comfortable with laws that prohibit organising Nazi parties and clubs, or prohibit disseminating Nazi ideas, which are public acts. Laws that prohibit people from holding ideas privately would seem both unprecedented and unnecessary.

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    4. "Laws that prohibit people from holding ideas privately would seem both unprecedented and unnecessary."

      And nuts!

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  4. I would say both a moral right to an opinion but also a moral duty to base them on evidence with the shift occurring along the dimension of opinion to fact. At some point it no longer becomes opinion, but truth or error though some truths are personal. If only conservatives felt the same duty when it comes to global warming or many other issues.

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    1. "though some truths are personal. "

      Incoherent.

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    2. "If only conservatives felt the same duty when it comes to global warming or many other issues."

      Look, just cut the digs at conservatives here, since I am not a conservative, and have no particular interest in hearing your complaints about them. It's like you show up at my blog and keep griping about hairdressers.

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