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Jonathan Rauch Reminds Us That Truth Can Only Be Achieved Through Free Expression

October 28, 2013

by Daniel Shuchman

To observe that American political and intellectual discourse has become polarized, intolerant of all but the most predictable ideological nostrums, censorial of anything deemed to be remotely “politically incorrect,” and generally lacking in subtlety, a free spirit of inquiry, or honest quest for truth, has perhaps become trite.  Twenty years ago it was less so, and it was then that journalist and Brookings Institution fellow Jonathan Rauch wrote a book called Kindly Inquisitors:  The New Attacks on Free Thought.  In retrospect, Mr. Rauch was extraordinarily prophetic in his assessment of the evolving state of free speech and thought.  The recent issuance of a newly updated version of Kindly Inquisitors provides an opportune moment to reflect on this extraordinarily deep and provocative essay, a true tour de force of logic, integrity and moral passion...