Philosophy in the World
Socrates famously stated, “the unexamined life is not worth living”. I believe this statement is highly representative of what Philosophy is truly about, the ability to freely think and examine everything in our lives. Today in our society there are some fast moving forces at work that seek to assure the only life one can live is the unexamined one. Certain groups of people seem intent on the removal of specific ideas that are contrary to their own beliefs. These people seem intent on banning ideas, movements, and expression that they consider to be racist, homophobic, sexist, or just overall bigoted. While their intention is in fact beneficial as nobody should want to seek to be any of the things that were just listed, they greatly overstep when they begin to want to legislate a person’s morality. The basic right to free speech is by far one of the most precious rights any individual has. Without the ability to openly speak your opinion regardless of the issue and despite your opinion on it, no matter how vile, you are not truly able to live an “examined life”, therefore it is not worth living.
Freedom of speech gives people of all social and economic backgrounds an opportunity to openly speak their minds about any topic that they have an issue with. In our era, the right to free speech is being questioned more and more. Some people no longer feel as if they can openly speak out and voice their opinions properly as they will be shunned and slandered by a small portion of society. This is in large part due to the Social Justice movement. People who are a part of this movement are typically referred to as Social Justice Warriors, or SJW for short. While SJW’s are only a small portion of the population they garner great amounts of media attention by doing things such as destroy private property, attempt to ban conservative and libertarian speakers from speaking at events, and attempt to censor ideas that differ from their opinions. One of the most recent example of this took place at UC Berkeley. A right wing speaker by the name of Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak at an event on campus on february 6th 2017. Some students petitioned the university to prevent him from speaking but the university refused. Because of this, students resorted to heavy duty rioting which in turn made the conditions to dangerous to hold the event. They set parts of the school on fire, they smashed windows, and worst of all students that were supportive of Milo were physically beaten. The students would claim that Milo was a Nazi, therefore they had every right to burn down parts of their school in order to prevent him from speaking. For those who do not know who Milo is, he is a gay jewish immigrant who preaches the idea of less government, but somehow he is still a nazi. I think it would make more sense to say that someone who uses violence to prevent the discussion of opinions that are contrary to their own is closer to a Nazi then Milo.
There are many things that I personally do not agree with Milo on, but what is more important to me is that ideas from all across the political spectrum are able to be shared freely. Without this you can not truly examine an issue. If we deny ourselves the freedom to have a real debate on serious issues, we are forcing ourselves to live an unexamined life. Therefore, by preventing ourselves from partaking in certain political discourse we are ensuring that our life is, according to Socrates, not one worth Living.
Plato, The Apology