The defenestration of British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton based on a deceptively presented interview may be of limited relevance to Rhode Island politics. The lesson, however, is worth presenting in every venue of our modern age:
But while certain Conservative politicians seem set on appeasing what they take to be the spirit of the age, they might have misjudged the turn. … Those who were most angry were young people, who have grown to loathe this social media hate-mongering.
Their instincts are right. Our world is replete with complex matters that need discussing. We need philosophers, thinkers and even politicians of courage to help us find our way through this. We live in the age of character assassination. What we now desperately need is a counter-revolution based on the importance of individuals over mobs, the primacy of truth over offence, and the necessity of free-thought over this bland, dumb and ill-conceived uniformity.
People across the political spectrum must rebuild the consensus that everybody has a right to express their views, that we should give each other wide latitude to err (whether in fleeting words misspoken in an instant or more-fundamental flaws in a way of thinking), and that punishing people for the ideas that they express, to the extent that it should be an option at all, should be done only with full awareness of the context and intent of their speech. Knowing what they actually said is only the first step of that process.