The Right to Be Wrong

As Evelyn Beatrice Hall famously wrote in her 1906 book The Friends of Voltaire (1906), Voltaire’s thoughts on freedom of thought and expression could be summarized as follows: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Most people would likely laud that as a noble goal for our society.

In a thoughtful essay published in The Huffington Post, author Brian Levin states that while Rick was wrong in his statement about Jews, elitists and a left-leaning bias in the media industry, firing Rick sends a wrong message about our ability to engage in debate and discourse:

If Sanchez makes a meaningful post gaffe statement, I honestly hope he gets another shot somewhere. On a broad level, we need in this society the right to be wrong. We need to encourage honest discourse, even when it is hurtful and wrong—because it is only through honest exchange and the testing of viewpoints that true learning actually takes place. Moreover, even within seemingly wrongheaded arguments, are often doses of truth that deserve examination, once they can be isolated from prejudice and inaccuracy. To do otherwise will encourage a fake veneer of civility under which a cauldron of unanswered fears and false stereotypes are left unsaid, and untested among the public.

You can read the entire piece here.