Wednesday, September 27, 2017

are we still free to be wrong?

Jonah Goldberg discusses an important part of the problem. We live in a time of heightened "tolerance", greater intolerance, feigned tolerance and virtue signaling-- especially among those who loudly claim to be tolerant and who used to defend true tolerance. Not good. It'd be funny if it weren't so hypocritical and damaging.

But it's more than that. Libertarians would say that "you're free to be wrong", as long as you "don't do direct and significant harm to others". Of course, it's still interesting to define "direct and significant"-- and for better/worse, the bar has been lowered there in recent years.

Economists refer to this as "externalities". Your actions have indirect impacts on me. Most of the time, we ignore this. When I don't mow my lawn for a a few extra days, I impose costs on my neighbors, but oh well. When company X pollutes the environment to make us products, that won't stand. In a word, we're more sensitive to externalities than we were.

"Snowflakes" on the Left and the Right are telling us that X, Y and Z result in the dramatic imposition of costs on others. X, Y and Z can be actual or perceived, action or thought, historical monuments or anthem-kneeling, Confederate or U.S. flags, etc.


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