Peter Ellerton writes in The Conversation (21.7.16) about the apparently increasing proliferation of extreme or controversial views being heard amidst political and social discourse in Australia and overseas. The author argues that, rather than silencing or flatly ignoring these voices, they should be heard and, in all possible cases, refuted through reasoned and evidence-based argument.
‘We who live in Western liberal democracies seem to be in a permanent state of angst about who should be allowed to speak and what they should be allowed to speak about.
‘This angst is acute at the moment, since low-key voices that once represented extreme views on a range of social issues have recently become louder.
‘Whether it’s US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump denigrating refugees and talking of banning Muslims from entering his country or Australia’s One Nation leader and senator-elect Pauline Hanson rubbishing climate science and talking of banning Muslims from entering her country, this joltingly aggressive posturing has found traction with voters.
‘It’s not uncommon to hear people applaud this approach because, after all, they “speak their mind”. But what is so good about speaking your mind if it’s a jumbled mess of self-contradiction?
‘Even if the stream-of-consciousness ramblings of Trump and Hanson, as two examples, are generally incoherent, could there be any good points worth exploring buried under the intellectual rubble? Either way, should we be listening?’
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