Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday with G.K. Chesterton

Of all the weak-minded manifestations of the modern cowardice, perhaps the most contemptible is this assumption of a collective sensitiveness, this banding of a class together against its critics. If you think the London drama dull, it is an insult to actors. If you think the London streets ugly, it is an insult to architects. If you suggest that the London streets are dirty, it is an insult to the sacred Guild of Crossing-Sweepers. The whole of our moral indignation is to be reserved, apparently, to those who point out an evil; we are never to insult anybody except when we insult the insulter of wrong. We want to get rid of the whole idea of "insult" in this sense. A state of freedom ought to mean a state in which no man can silence another. As it is, it means a state in which every man must silence himself. It ought to mean that Mr. Shaw can say a thing twenty times, and still not make me believe it. As it is, it means that Mr. Shaw must leave off saying it, because my exquisite nerves will not endure to hear somebody saying something with which I do not agree. Freedom means that we cannot oppress each other. But unless we insult each other we shall never do anything.

G.K. Chesterton
The Illustrated London News March 17, 1906

H/t to Binky at Free Mark Steyn!

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