Letter to the Editor | It's OK to stand up to stupidity

Letter to the Editor | It's OK to stand up to stupidity

As her recent News-Gazette essay explains, Emily Klose dislikes the T-shirt maxim "Freedom of Speech is NOT a license to be stupid!" Sighting it in the Washington, D.C., Newseum so irritated her that she doggedly employed her journalistic bent to stalk her essay's foreground, substance and background for three days, vainly pursuing Newseum staff for interviews.

Personally, I like the quip's sentiment. There's a sting in its tail useful to recall when rambunctious stupidity — one's own or another's — hinders reasonable, civil discussion.

She complains that the statement implies (or proposes? or condoles?) Putinesque suppression. She says, "... in a free society, all voices shall be heard, regardless of whether the words being uttered seem stupid, controversial, offensive ... to someone, somewhere."

"All voices shall be heard!" OK, but how much license should we give to actual, verifiable, persistent stupidity? A Klose T-shirt — dropping the maxim's objectionable "not" — would read "Freedom of Speech IS a license to be stupid!"

Is her essay's headline, "It might be time for a refresher course in free speech," recommending we cultivate our latent obtuseness and strive more to be uncivil libertarians?

Shall we follow our president's example? The Washington Post counts his 3,001 "false or misleading" public claims in the 466 days between his inauguration and May 1, 2018. Licensed or not, there's stupidity in that performance somewhere: comprehensive, global disdain for facts and evidence — invincible stupidity. Just the "... stupid, controversial, offensive ..." stuff Klose may believe we should swallow without resistance, rebuke or censure.

DWAIN BERGGREN

Urbana

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