The Benefits of Listening to Other Views

By on April 19, 2012

Writing for the Indiana Daily Student, Indiana University (IU) student and former FIRE intern Nico Perrino comments on a recent episode in which IU students heckled a campus speaker, Pastor Douglas Wilson, and prevented others from hearing him speak. The students evidently found his views so noxious that they were deemed unfit for airing at all on IU’s campus. This mob censorship seems to have been, as Nico puts it, "prejudice revealed by a crowd of people who have adopted a viewpoint and let it ferment for so long without going unchallenged that they regard themselves as maintaining a monopoly on truth." 

Yet, as Nico points out in a lengthy comment piece, shutting down certain discussion from taking place ultimately hurts all of us when different ideas are not exchanged and our views are not challenged: 

When it comes to the point when someone claims the authority to decide truth for all of mankind by refusing the right of others to judge truth for themselves, it is clear that that person no longer harbors a true, living belief but rather, as Mill might describe it, a dead dogma. 

[...] 

Is it not true that truth becomes more powerful and better understood in confrontation with error? 

Indeed, it was Mill who also said, "Both teachers and learners go to sleep at their post, as soon as there is no enemy in the field." 

Nico makes a number of other critical points in defense of the liberal exchange of ideas, and the entire piece is well worth your time. It’s also a testament to the quality of the education in liberty that FIRE offers its interns-an education that’s sorely lacking on too many campuses. You can check it out here.

Schools: Indiana University – Bloomington