Thursday, August 17, 2017

I have to read what you have read????

I have now seen more than once a statement that someone has no right to an opinion in opposition to mine if they haven't read the documents I have read.  I think that is quite wrong, ridiculous even, but in some cases, I feel I can see how and why someone might arrive at that position.  

Suppose you are an expert on the US constitution, its construction, its amendments, the modifications it has undergone over the years, the way it has been interpreted in various courts and lawmaking bodies. Suppose I am an uneducated, opinionated person who happens to be sitting beside you and your friend in a local bar. You have spent your life reading, digesting, comparing information and opinions about the constitution and have several books, published about every five years on the subject of the US constitution.  Your books have been published by popular book publishers and some by academic publishers.

I don't like your looks and I feel intuitively that you are the sort of person who holds opinions opposed to mine.  I don't know about your credentials and I don't care to.  You can be pretty sure that if you inform me of your lifework or even a small portion of it, I am not going to feel that I don't have a right to my own opinion about human rights, the free press, the right of assembly and whatever other rights that might be tucked away here and there in the constitution and other laws.

If I have to get my highly educated wife involved, she might come to my rescue.  She and her philosophical friends might ask if other constitutional experts exist.  She might contact them and check their positions and show that some disagree with your statements.  I might ask my minister and my rabbi and my iman if I have a right to my ideas without being a lifelong reader of constitutional articles and books. 'Course, I might just laugh at you and repeat that you are wrong, disgusting, and not my sort.  

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