This article was originally written and posted on procitas.com by Peyton Dracco; it is re-posted here with the express consent of the author and owners.
Personally, I often enjoy answering challenging questions about my worldview. I relish the opportunity for complex dialogue such inquiries present; especially, when the person asking is truly wanting an answer: looking for a similar opportunity to engage in intelligent discourse. These discussions usually lead to both, my partner in conversation and I, getting to see each other in a better light (so to speak; forgive the cliché, it goes well with the meta-content of the idea). I find that those who desire honest conversation are regularly reflective in the way they listen, and do their best to demonstrate how much of what I put into words they understand by returning reworked versions of what I have said, and at times in the form of questions. This is how all conversations should go. We listen to what is being contributed, we process the information, and let the other party know that we have done so by providing a statement of acknowledgment.
There are times, however, when the individual questioning my perspectives does not hope for an answer but is simply looking to rebuke my thinking. These question come in many forms, yet the style I have come to expect from the current social climate is about what gives me the right to question other people’s beliefs. Other times I am asked more directly who I think I am to do so. These types of questions permeate our political, educational, and social circles; they seem to have become ubiquitous in our speech about higher learning and political correctness, as if these two were somehow dependent on each other. They are not, in fact, the latter hinders the former.
Now, these questions are in and of themselves valid, after all if I claim the right to criticise the dogmas of a given doctrine I must be able to provide good evidence and argument for my assertion; at the very least good argument is necessary, and failure to do so would have me forfeiting this right. The issue, then, isn’t the questions but the implications underlying them (or the intention of the questions as a rhetorical devices). If by asking me why I challenge certain ideas you are attempting to tell me that I am not to do so, you are simply wrong. Holding any idea or belief exempt of criticism isn’t only illogical, it is overtly unethical, and thus potentially destructive. I have written many pages about this, but better explanations will come in the future. For now I provide a short answer to these questions in a way to show respect for their validity.
Aside from the immutable human rights of free speech and expression, I claim to be able to criticise ideas held by others because I allow those I hold to be criticised by everyone. I am open to debate and dialectic; I expect my beliefs to be harshly scrutinised whenever possible. I have also accepted the possibility of being wrong when I am shown to be by good evidence and sound argument. Nothing in philosophy, science, or simple logic tells us that there are notions beyond reproach. NOTHING! It is only when it comes to our emotional sensibilities that we decide not to question the value of a conviction; this has always been the cause for unnecessary political conflict and shameful suffering, including loss of life. This adds another reason for my right, and everyone else’s for that matter, to challenge ideas and beliefs, which is the evidently destructive effects of unmitigated human emotion, or human thinking when left unchecked.