It's been a while since something was posted on our blog. How dreadful. Someone should say something! Unfortunately, I'm not sure that I have anything particularly fascinating or insightful to say...I mean, when I think "Intellectual Freedom" (strike the angel chorus: Aaahhh)...only a very little follows. But I suppose that thinking some little thing is probably better than thinking nothing. Well, perhaps not according to Buddha...but nonetheless, here is some food for thought (and who doesn't like food or thoughts?!)
Ok, if I let me mind wander about the intellectual freedom camp, it comes to me that...intellectual freedom must be inversely correlated to censorship. The concept of intellectual freedom promotes the rights of individuals to freely explore ideas either through expression or consumption, and so, one might suggest that with increased practises of intellectual freedom will come decreased practises of censorship; and inversely, with greater censorship will come decreased intellectual freedom. Hmm, this seems kind of obvious doesn't it?
Well, let's see...in theory we promote intellectual freedom because we believe that a) we are autonomous individuals with the right to determine our own experiences and express ourselves freely, b) and therefore, we also do not have the right to impose our ideas and beliefs onto others, c) and possibly, with greater, unimpeded access to contrasting ideas and points of view, we will create a more thoughtful and tolerant society? Ok, let's go with all of the above. Now what? What happens after we create a more thoughtful and tolerant society?
If people are more thoughtful and tolerant, then they will take time to consider various aspects of an idea/opinion/belief, even if it does not conform to their own. So, for example, if I were to tell you about a conversation I once had with JD (a person whom you don't know) who said that slaves were never ill-treated because they were too valuable, (i.e. they represented an investment by the farmer, so why would they risk their investment by not feeding, housing and otherwise caring for their slaves?), the precepts of intellectual freedom kind of dictate that even if you don't agree with this statement, you still need to consider it...give it it's thoughtful due so to speak. Otherwise, if you dismiss it out of hand, doesn't that become censorship?
Ok wait; if you don't allow JD to express his view, then that is censorship. If you don't allow someone to access JD's ideas, then that is also censorship. If you allow JD to speak and someone else to listen, but choose to personally ignore JD, that is...well it doesn't sound like censorship (ok good), but it doesn't sound very thoughtful and tolerant either. If you don't engage with an alternative view to your own, then perhaps you're censoring yourself. Is that even possible? Sounds a little crazy, but you know, maybe it is (possible, not crazy). And if you are not willing to consider an idea, how will that affect your willingness to allow others the freedom to consider it as well?
So let's go back a bit: if more intellectual freedom = less censorship, that means that the more freedom that people have to express their beliefs, the less freedom they have to dismiss others'...but then we're still curtailing one's intellectual freedom!! So does that mean more intellectual freedom = more rights to censorship?!
I don't know where to go from here. Does anyone have any ideas?