Yes, indeed, this blog is free speech zone. I enjoy discussing and debating ideas (in the classical sense). It helps us all grow in wisdom and truth and also helps develop the skills of critical thinking, research, and analysis. You may wonder, then, (or maybe you don't) why I moderate all the comments.
The answer is simple. I moderate comments because, today, too many people have no filter. Free speech doesn't mean a no-holds-barred free for all! Some people think an ad hominem attack is a legitimate form of debate. Two commenters who continuously engaged in ad hominem attacks and regularly judged the state of Susan's and my souls are permanently banned. No matter how civil their current remarks, I will never offer them a platform again. I'm not interested in being used as a punching bag or channelling readers to their sites.
Having said that, however, anyone who wants to discuss with courtesy and reason is welcome.
Socrates searched for truth by engaging in conversation and asking questions. Just as today, people reveal their own ignorance and illogic by answering questions with non-answers and illogic, so did the people of Athens who confronted Socrates. They exposed themselves in an unflattering light. That's what made him such a threat. Their own words made them look foolish. But Socrates did it without rancor or unkindness. Pursuit of truth seemed to be his sole objective, not humiliating others. They did a good job of doing that all by themselves.
Those who control with lies and manipulation hate unrestricted thought and speech which is why we now have concerted efforts to silence both speech and thoughts. Most readers have probably heard about the woman in Birmingham, England arrested for praying silently outside an abortion business. Not only is speech criminalized these days if it threatens the elites' agenda, but crimethink as well. And what is the worst crime and threat to the demagogues in power? Prayer, of course, which elicits the question...
If they don't believe in God, and many say they don't, why are they so threatened by those who invoke Him and beg for his help? Why did the emperors demand that pinch of incense?
If you want to know how to argue with charity and civility read Socrates. His apologia (defense) at his trial begins in a way that stirs the heart:
How you have felt, O men of Athens, at hearing the speeches of my accusers, I cannot tell; but I know that their persuasive words almost made me forget who I was—such was the effect of them; and yet they have hardly spoken a word of truth [alēthēs]. But many as their falsehoods were, there was one of them which quite amazed me—I mean when they told you to be upon your guard, and not to let yourselves be deceived by the force of my eloquence. They ought to have been ashamed of saying this, because they were sure to be detected as soon as I opened my lips and displayed my deficiency; they certainly did appear to be most shameless in saying this, unless by the force of eloquence they mean the force of truth; for then I do indeed admit that I am eloquent. But in how different a way from theirs! Well, as I was saying, they have hardly uttered a word, or not more than a word, of truth; but you shall hear from me the whole truth: not, however, delivered after their manner, in a set oration duly ornamented with words and phrases.No indeed! but I shall use the words and arguments which occur to me at the moment; for I am certain that this is right, and that at my time of life I ought not to be appearing before you, O men of Athens, in the character of a juvenile orator—let no one expect this of me.
And I must beg of you to grant me one favor, which is this—if you hear me using the same words in my defense which I have been in the habit of using, and which most of you may have heard in the agora, and at the tables of the money-changers, or anywhere else, I would ask you not to be surprised at this, and not to interrupt me. For I am more than seventy years of age, and this is the first time that I have ever appeared in a court of law, and I am quite a stranger to the ways of the place; and therefore I would have you regard me as if I were really a stranger, whom you would excuse if he spoke in his native tongue, and after the fashion of his country—that I think is not an unfair request. Never mind the manner, which may or may not be good; but think only of the justice [dikē] of my cause, and give heed to that: let the jury decide with their virtue [aretē] and the speaker speak truly.Socrates reminds me of St. Stephen whose eloquence inflamed those who were about to stone him to death. Clearly, the pagan Socrates, who spent his life searching for truth, was searching for the source of all truth, God. We would do well, as Catholics, to imitate his style by asking our adversaries questions with kindness and cheerfulness.
|H.G. Wells and Chesterton|
See Americans could learn a lot from their unique friendship.
"Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, there's always laughter and good red wine! At least I've always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" ― Hilaire Belloc