Saturday, 3 October 2009

Respect people, not opinions

Good article here in the Times by Oliver Kamm. He nails the idea that free expression means that all ideas (especially religious ideas) must be treated with respect - an idea that is impossible, and that the people propagating don't carry out in practice. "The idea that people's beliefs, merely by being deeply held, merit respect is grotesque." Opinions should only be respected if they are well-grounded; they must earn respect - it is conditional. It is people who are to be given respect as people made in the image of God, not because they hold views.

Ultimately if all ideas are worthy of respect, then none are. When counterfeit gold can be passed off as the real thing, the real thing loses its value in the marketplace. If Islam's teaching that in a court of law the testimony of a woman is inherently worth half that of a man is an opinion which is equally worthy of respect as the Bible's teaching that men and women are equally made in the image of God, then ultimately we're just saying that neither opinion matters at all. You can't have it all ways.

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