Friday, April 9, 2010

Freedom of Speech

I was waiting at the bus stop just yesterday when I saw a guy about my age reading Ray Comfort's edited version of On the Orgin of Species (which I confess I am disappointed that it shows up on Amazon's top 3 search results). At first I thought to myself, "This is a joke, right? Like, they didn't really make a book with that dumb of an intro, did they?" But of course, they did, and he was reading it. I didn't get to say anything to him about it and if I did I would have told him to just tear out the first few pages and use them as kindle.

What seems sad to me is that, after all these years, Creationists still attack Darwin for his views on... well, the origin of the species. They defame his character as though it matters and as though it has anything to do with what science said then or says today. But the worst part is that a lot of people might notice the book, see the attractive colors, recognize the iconic name, open to the first page, and think that Ray Comfort has actually somehow disproved a grounded scientific theory in under 50 pages. I know, you wouldn't think it's likely, but the odds are good that it would happen to at least a few people. Looking at the cover, you couldn't tell that it is supposed to be a "rebuttal" but it instead somewhat deceptively states that it merely contain an "introduction," which contains some of the poorest argumentation and misunderstanding about the theory I've ever seen.

On one hand, I hate it. In a country with freedom of speech, any uneducated man can publish a book that says anything he wants it to without any legal repercussions. It just doesn't seem fair that it should be published and given to unsuspecting college students throughout the nation. But on the other hand, I love the US for the same reason. Instead of censoring people we don't agree with, we fairly give them the right to voice their side while soundly trouncing every argument they put forth and conclusively showing them to be frauds. Sure, some people might get deceived in the process, but when you consider that it could be you getting shut up by the feds, you realize how important it is that everyone be permitted to at least speak their mind.

Furthermore, you now have the opportunity (perhaps even the responsibility) to become knowledgeable on a subject so that you can better yourself and others by dissecting the lies and showing yourself to be an honest, contributing member of society. I can't count the times I've been thankful for the ability to read an article that my family, friends, government, or politicians wouldn't have wanted me reading. I would hope that in a completely open forum where everyone's voice can be heard, the truth would win out every time.


Parabola said...

If there's one person that tempts me to violate freedoms, it's Ray Comfort. (or perhaps Sarah Palin)

You highlight a beautiful thing: the more we empower the average person to handle their own business effectively, the less we need an overarching entity to do it for them. If a person develops a quality set of tools for discerning fact from fallacy then that's one less person we need to worry about being misled or taken advantage of -- they'll stand firm against a "monotheist grade" assault on their brain.

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