Professor Gilbert Coon
31 February 2013
The Importance of Expression
“If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind”(Mill). This quote, by John Stuart Mill, is a quote that I originally disagreed with. Before reading the essay, I thought on all of the different examples in which the silencing of a certain opinion can be beneficial to the masses. A particular example that still sticks out to me is the silencing of the Westboro Baptist Church, a prolific hate group known for speaking out against marine funerals and picketing tragedies such as the Sandy Hook Massacre. How could such a volatile group of hate mongers possibly have any right to such opinions? But after reading a few different essays on the subject, and applying the opinions and logic of the authors into my daily life and other real world situations, I came to the conclusion that all ideas and opinions should be openly debated, respected, and tolerated regardless of how society views the subject matter, so as to enlighten and instill progress in mankind.
In modern times, I have frequently noticed how quick people are to jump down the throats of those who do not share their similar opinion. A good example of this is the group of people I hang out with, who are all extremely liberal. As soon as I would make any commentary against certain controversial subjects, such as Affirmative Action and abortion, my friends would immediately disagree with everything I say. Instead of using proper etiquette in their arguments, they digress to sarcasm, name calling, and bias. To them, silencing my opinion is more important than enlightening me, and even if their intentions were to do so, the overly aggressive way in which they argue is extremely counterproductive. It was almost as if they viewed me as...