Free Speech and Education

We live in a culture where communication is sped up, easily accessible, and largely unfiltered. The recent impact of Innocence of Muslims and the public release of video footage of Mitt Romney speaking to donors at a private fundraiser got me thinking about education, critical thinking, and free speech. Here are some notes I made this morning to organize my thoughts. I’m posting them here for others to comment on and as a sticky note for myself, because yellow notepads are cheap and prone to being buried in clutter.

If free speech is to be ensured and not abused, education is paramount. Aims of education:

  • critical thinking, so that individuals may arrive at informed, rational opinions
  • respect for other people — their needs, dignity, and opinions
  • citizenship, civic responsibility — must counteract consumerism, immediate gratification, and selfishness
  • a rational view of self in relation to others — again to counteract selfishness
  • a rational view of the cosmos, including an appreciation of geologic/deep time here on Earth that facilitates a rational appreciation of humanity’s uniqueness and transitory nature
  • a sense of humor, levity

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