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The Philadelphia Statement

Summary:
 While we're at it, The Philadelphia Statement is another effort to broadcast the value of free speech and open inquiry, with 15163 signatories so far.  A few choice quotes: Our liberty and our happiness depend upon the maintenance of a public culture in which freedom and civility coexist—where people can disagree robustly, even fiercely, yet treat ...

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 While we're at it, The Philadelphia Statement is another effort to broadcast the value of free speech and open inquiry, with 15163 signatories so far.  A few choice quotes: 

Our liberty and our happiness depend upon the maintenance of a public culture in which freedom and civility coexist—where people can disagree robustly, even fiercely, yet treat each other as human beings—and, indeed, as fellow citizens—not mortal enemies. 

And not just as morally deplorable by virtue of disagreement. We need to listen, not silence.  

... As Americans, we desire a flourishing, open marketplace of ideas, knowing that it is the fairest and most effective way to separate falsehood from truth.

Not an army of censors at internet companies. Concrete objections: 

Common decency and free speech are being dismantled through the stigmatizing practice of blacklisting ideological opponents... Responsible organizations are castigated as “hate groups.” Honest people of good faith are branded “hate agents.” Even mainstream ideas are marginalized as “hate speech.” This threatens our ability to listen, discuss, debate, and grow.

....Corporations are enacting “hate-speech” policies to protect people from “wrong” and “harmful” content. Similarly, colleges and universities are imposing speech regulations to make students “safe,” not from physical harm, but from challenges to campus orthodoxy. 

An interesting perspective: 

These policies and regulations assume that we as citizens are unable to think for ourselves and to make independent judgments. Instead of teaching us to engage, they foster conformism (“groupthink”) and train us to respond to intellectual challenges with one or another form of censorship.

A bit of unhappy history:

Humanity has repeatedly tried expunging undesirable beliefs and ideas....

It has not turned out well.  A nice conclusion:

If we seek to change our country’s trajectory; if we desire unity rather than division; if we want a political life that is productive and inspiring; if we aspire to be a society that is pluralistic and free, one in which we can forge our own paths and live according to our own consciences, then we must renounce ideological blacklisting and recommit ourselves to steadfastly defending freedom of speech and passionately promoting robust civil discourse.


John H. Cochrane
In real life I'm a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. I was formerly a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. I'm also an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute. I'm not really grumpy by the way!

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