My husband and I can often be heard having a heated debate about whether or not a person should be "entitled to their opinion". I maintain that if the person is fundamentally wrong, i.e if their opinion is that of a bigot/misogynist/racist etc then perhaps they've lost that right, or at least the right to shout it from the rooftops and be listened to. My husband, on the other hand, is ironically, slightly more tolerant than I am and thinks that no matter how abhorrent your views, they still belong to you and as such you have the right to express them. I do agree with the idea of free speech, I understand its importance and the dangers censorship presents, I just don't know if we should as a society, tolerate such damaging opinions to the extent that we do. But then there is the question of who decides what is or is not a "damaging opinion?". It's all a bit murky really.
Pretty much my exact feelings for RTE right about now.
George Orwell maintained that "if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear" and that actually does make a lot of sense to me but while I understand what both Orwell and my husband are saying and I agree on principle, I do wonder how helpful it is to us as a society to entertain certain views. If someone is basically just a homophobe, hates women or anyone of a different skin colour to them, then how important is their opinion to any discussion really?
For instance, our national broadcaster, RTE, has repeatedly seen fit to pit obstetric medical consultants against random members of certain right wing, Irish-Catholic organisations who posses neither medical nor legal expertise and expect a balanced debate on abortion. Fuelled, not by facts or evidence, they instead use hatred, closed-mindedness and a staggering amount of self-importance to see them through, regardless of how little they actually know of the topic at hand. This is where I struggle a little bit however, because I think it's a huge credit to those of us of a more liberal leaning when certain elements of Irish society appear on TV or in print like this and make ludicrous statements about marriage equality or abortion that in the end really only make them look foolish and serve to weaken their entire argument. As the great Oscar Wilde once said "I may not agree with you but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself."
So yes, everyone should be entitled to their own opinion. I will however remain on the fence as to whether or not everyone deserves to be continuously given such public platforms to express said opinions.
What do you think? Come on, it's only Tuesday, we all need a good rant! Let me know in the comments.