Is Free and Open Debate Still Possible?

I was pleasantly surprised that this essay came out of Harvard – a professor encouraging open dialogue on a number of ‘sensitive’ issues. That is what university is meant to do, a tradition all the way back to their founding in the scholastic dialectical method. As Saint Thomas does in the Summa, face your opponent’s arguments square on, without palliation, without making straw men to knock down; and certainly without hiding in a fetal position in a safe space.

There may come a point wherein dialogue is no longer possible, where one’s opponent will no longer listen to argument or debate, and will shut you down – or worse – with violence. It is against this that Pope Benedict warned in his 2006 Regensburg Address, in reference to a certain religion whose credo is imposed by coercion. Such is now the modus operandi of all the current narratives – submit, or else.

Or else, what? We must defend the right to think, to speak, and to act, freely. For the truth will set us free, but truth itself must be sought in freedom.