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David Hegg: We don’t have to think alike

Posted: May 11, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 11, 2014 2:00 a.m.
 

In every ordered and civilized society the rule of law plays an essential role. Given that human nature is too often selfish and sometimes even cruel, laws are enacted to declare the boundaries between right and wrong. Laws form the lens through which society views the actions of those individuals who choose to live in the group.

You will notice that I said the “actions” of those in the group. Yet, today we are increasingly aware that not only actions but thoughts are becoming the stuff of prohibition. The question presents itself: If you think in a way that others dislike, but your behavior aligns with what the law prescribes, must you be punished?

For example, let’s say you disagree with the 55mph speed limit on the freeway. You think it is archaic given the speed and safety of new vehicles, and fervently believe the limit should be raised. Or maybe you think the government has no right to impose limits in the first place. Regardless of your view, I believe that if you drive within the speed limit you should not be penalized. Actions, not thoughts, must be the focus of legal restrictions. Thoughts must not be policed, even if expressed, if there is no corresponding illegal action.

Freedom of thought lies at the base of freedom of expression. When the framers of our Constitution imbedded in that document the freedom for Americans to think and say what they wanted to, regardless its offensive nature, they were reacting against the totalitarian governments of the past who denied their subjects that freedom. It is this freedom that has given life and breath to the American experiment, and made our country the place people from all over the world are anxious to enter. You can tell a good country from a bad one by whether folks are trying to come in or get out. One good thing about the flood of immigrants entering this land is what their passion to become Americans says about the greatness of our country. But, sadly, you and I have front row seats on a monumental change in our freedom.

We are now seeing men and women forced from their positions because of their opinions rather than their actions. And while the recent number of high profile corporate and industrial leaders has garnered media attention, it is almost certain those with politically incorrect opinions at lower levels are being turned out as well, without fanfare.

Now please understand. I believe many opinions are downright wrong, disrespectful, and even dangerous. I have mine, and you have yours, and we may never agree. But it has always been a standard American sentiment that

“I may disagree with you vehemently, and fight against your position aggressively, but I will also fight for your right to hold and express your opinion in this land.”

Over my years in corporate, academic, and church settings I have often been part of groups tasked with making decisions. I have noticed is that stifling debate also stifles creativity and progress. In situations where only one opinion is allowed, so much else suffers, but in society the first victim is freedom.

As a theologian and pastor I often hear from those who oppose me. And while I may disagree with their positions, their arguments have often caused me to go back and re-think mine. Either I become more assured as a result of re-examining the evidence, or I come to better my own position by making need adjustments. Either way I am better off!

My plea is that you would not be sucked in by the current sentiment that we all have to think alike, and that the expression of negative opinions needs to be severely punished. Actions, not thoughts, are to be the focus of law, even those public mores that remain unwritten. Without freedom of thought you cannot have freedom of speech.

And without freedom of speech America will cease to be special, a shinning light on the hill of civilization.

David Hegg is a senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. “Ethically Speaking” runs Sundays in The Signal.

Comments

tech: Posted: May 11, 2014 12:28 p.m.

Definition of thoughtcrime in English:
thoughtcrime
Syllabification: thought·crime
Pronunciation: /ˈTHôtˌkrīm /
NOUN

An instance of unorthodox or controversial thinking, considered as a criminal offense or as socially unacceptable:
academia is pandering to politicized pressure groups with courses on feminism and homosexuality, and persecuting colleagues who are guilty of thoughtcrimes

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/thoughtcrime


chefgirl358: Posted: May 11, 2014 8:09 p.m.

So by Hegg's example, we should all accept Donald Sterling's right to voice his disgusting opinions and allow him to say whatever he likes without consequence.


tech: Posted: May 12, 2014 9:14 p.m.

Chefgirl,

The better question is: What was Sterling's action? How did he act on his words?


ricketzz: Posted: May 12, 2014 6:41 a.m.

Tech, the erudite Fox News viewer: Those of us who grew up on Eric Blair and Frank Zappa are well aware of mindcrimes.

http://www.lyricsfreak.com/f/frank+zappa/who+are+the+brain+police_20056709.html

God forbid "academia" studies the 6% of the population that grows up (Heinlein reference) strangers in a strange land. Or "feminism" that points out women are just as good as non-women, only in slightly different ways.

The real mindcrime in tech's world is to doubt the infallibility of the "market" and to speak glowingly of collective actions.


tech: Posted: May 12, 2014 7:44 a.m.

Non sequitur, ricketzz. How did I become erudite or have a comprehensive knowledge of history by watching TV?

The rote mention of Fox is akin to the Two Minutes Hate.

Additionally, your argument is with the Oxford Dictionary, if you bothered to utilize the reference link. --edited.


Lotus8: Posted: May 12, 2014 10:30 a.m.

This article goes part of the way towards the real question that is facing us in the near future. We are discovering the tools to discern thoughts based upon brain activity, our privacy is being diminished due to cameras, internet tracking, and the like, and so we are becoming more and more able to really enforce societal norms through empirical monitoring. Nobody is perfect, and everyone at least thinks things that they would not like others to hear. Sometimes we even express these thoughts to our close acquaintances in moments and places where we believe we aren't being recorded. But what if your thoughts and private moments were recorded and analyzed for the world to see, or the government to rule on using a set of societal norms that have been codified into law? Are we really ready for what lies ahead on this path? Part of the beauty of life is the struggle to be better from moment to moment, to learn from mistakes, and to see that the imperfection in others is sometimes what endears them to us because we recognize the efforts behind their struggles. Are we really ready to move to a binary 1 or 0, on or off, yes or no, black or white only society? This is where the conversation here naturally ends up if we are to stick to our guns about "wrong thought."

Just some food for thought to hopefully take the discussion in a direction where we may all learn something rather than a bickering contest.


tech: Posted: May 12, 2014 11:43 a.m.

Lotus8:

Referencing science fiction as predictor of possible futures, there's Philip K. Dick's Minority Report and a movie of the same name. It's apropos to your thoughts.

In the short story, there's a PreCrime Unit that apprehends "criminals" before they can act. It's an interesting premise involving predetermination, free will and the role of government.

Exposing ad hominem attacks that aren't valid arguments isn't "bickering", is it? People sort themselves out readily in my experience.


Indy: Posted: May 12, 2014 12:50 p.m.

I think Hegg is reasonable enough is trying to promote some sort of debate realizing that we all don’t think alike . . .

But at some point, decisions matter and consequences are real.

As to whether your ‘private thoughts’ are the same as your ‘public thoughts’, why should they be different?

Isn’t this the whole ‘political correct’ issue where some think ‘racist’ thoughts but still hire those they disagree with?

But how’s that working out with say Hobby Lobby where the ‘owners’ of the business want to ‘enforce’ their religious beliefs on their employees that don’t share their ‘private and personal’ religious beliefs?

And therein lies the rub for Hegg in that he sees his religious beliefs as ‘unquestionable’ yet still wants me to believe that he’s open to discussion?

And what about opinions based on lack of knowledge . . . are they as good as the ones that are well researched and deal with the reality we actually ‘see’ versus just hoping things turn out the way ‘one might believe them to’?

In any event, you are free to ‘hide’ your thoughts from the public but still ‘act behind closed doors’ (think congress passing laws in the middle of the night . . . ) but we need to hold those accountable for their ‘actions’ which would be easier if people didn’t try to deceive others with their ‘private motivations’ (think 'focused group tested' slogans designed to deceive ...).

I’m in agreement with ‘freedom of speech’ but it appears many simply can’t stand the fact that others disagree with them . . . and will act in complete disregard (think voter suppression, gerrymandering, saying one thing and doing another) of the pronouncements of our Founding Fathers.

The ‘court’ of public opinion can only really matter and produce good decisions when the people in that discussion don’t hide their own personal agendas.

At least Clive Bundy came right out in the open regarding his views on the ‘Negro’ but as we see, this guy simply is a relic of another time whose beliefs have not changed with ‘modern knowledge’.

Perhaps if Bundy’s supporters believed in ‘free speech’ they wouldn’t be aiming weapons at federal employees enforcing the laws of our ‘we the people’ based government.


Indy: Posted: May 12, 2014 12:56 p.m.

Lotus8 wrote: Are we really ready to move to a binary 1 or 0, on or off, yes or no, black or white only society? This is where the conversation here naturally ends up if we are to stick to our guns about "wrong thought."

Indy: In the partisan world of politics supported by our ‘if it bleeds it leads’ for profit media, that threshold already exist.

Sadly, most Americans aren’t that short sighted but likewise, most of them are turned off by politics and simply believe there is little ‘they’ can do to change anything . . . thus the ‘victim’ mentality now drives most Americans (think those that no longer vote . . ).

In any event, if some people ignore reality in favor of their beliefs, then any further recitals from them are just that, recitals of ideology and are not focused for change based on reality.

Sadly, that’s the current state of affairs in our national politics.


Lotus8: Posted: May 12, 2014 4:39 p.m.

Indy, I think I might have failed to properly convey my intentions with the binary comment. I was trying to explain that we are losing our ability to be at peace with gray areas, to judge similar words based upon context and background. Most folks these days get their information from poorly researched blogs, a badly slanted Facebook graphic/post, or a politically funded "scientist's" research paper that is just an exercise in comedy.

To your point, however, I agree that the two party system has seen both parties go to completely divergent ends of the spectrum in an effort to drum up cash and turn out the base in elections, and the election cycle runs 24/7 - 365 now.


ricketzz: Posted: May 13, 2014 6:56 a.m.

When I read "1984" in grade school I wanted to be a Prole. Still do I think.


17trillion: Posted: May 13, 2014 8:17 a.m.

We don't all have to think alike? Really? Haven't had much interactions with liberals I guess.


tech: Posted: May 13, 2014 10:40 a.m.

"When I read "1984" in grade school I wanted to be a Prole. Still do I think." - ricketzz

Do you love Big Brother, ricketzz?


AlwaysRight: Posted: May 13, 2014 4:28 p.m.

Which is my point about Indy. We need him and those who think like him. CEOs and political leaders who surround themselves with like-thinkers and "yes-men" tend to make poor decisions that do not consider all aspects of an issue.

Again, I disagree with this Indy fellow 99% of the time. I often think that his diatribes are contrived and an effort to be contrary just for the sake of being so. But, his right to say what he does and the contrast it brings to our thinking are important.

Again, you go, Indy!


Indy: Posted: May 13, 2014 5:23 p.m.

AlwaysRight wrote: Which is my point about Indy. We need him and those who think like him. CEOs and political leaders who surround themselves with like-thinkers and "yes-men" tend to make poor decisions that do not consider all aspects of an issue.

Indy: Yes, this is sadly all too true . . . having worked in ‘big business’ for some 20 years . . . I saw this behavior where the ‘middle management’ exists to tell upper management how ‘smart they are’ yet the top managers would simply be out of touch with reality.

Business management consultants for decades were pushing the ‘delegation’ strategy to the point that top management delegated so much out from under them that they were left clueless to the actual workings of the organization.

AlwaysRight wrote: Again, I disagree with this Indy fellow 99% of the time. I often think that his diatribes are contrived and an effort to be contrary just for the sake of being so. But, his right to say what he does and the contrast it brings to our thinking are important.

Indy: It’s not to be unexpected the remark you make here since this board is dominated by conservatives that recite their party’s ideology repeatedly as if reciting it more than once makes it any more ‘true’ . . .

And isn’t it curious that the conservatives that ‘rant on’ . . . without thinking are excluded from the term ‘diatribe’ you refer to my posts.

Anyway, reality isn’t the ‘friend’ of ideologist of any party . . . just like the good example you noted above about executives that simply don’t want to hear ‘reality’ under the company is either going under or broke.

AlwaysRight wrote: Again, you go, Indy!

Indy: But thanks for the encouragement . . . since many of your brethren here would prefer a forum where only ‘like mind’ people post.

We’ve seen that through the years here at the various forums and from what I’ve seen, the conservative ‘only’ forums have all gone away . . . except one that I know of.

Why do you suppose that is?


Indy: Posted: May 13, 2014 5:29 p.m.

Lotus8 wrote: Indy, I think I might have failed to properly convey my intentions with the binary comment. I was trying to explain that we are losing our ability to be at peace with gray areas, to judge similar words based upon context and background. Most folks these days get their information from poorly researched blogs, a badly slanted Facebook graphic/post, or a politically funded "scientist's" research paper that is just an exercise in comedy.

Indy: Yes, all of what you noted is sadly all too true . . .

Lotus8 wrote: To your point, however, I agree that the two party system has seen both parties go to completely divergent ends of the spectrum in an effort to drum up cash and turn out the base in elections, and the election cycle runs 24/7 - 365 now.

Indy: Yes, that’s sad as well . . . and even more sad, this ‘political theater’ is propagated by the ‘for profit’ media as a proxy for ‘real news’ which includes items you’ve noted including context, ‘facts’, and back story.

But indeed, the politics of the nation have now gone into an 'endless' campaign mode where as you note, politicians of both parties just recite their 'intentions' and no solutions . . . other than 'it's the other party's fault'.

Even today I’m seeing various media outlets discussing the presidential election of 2016 as if what is ‘not’ happening today with respect to our current problems will just be solves without any mention of same.


therightstuff: Posted: May 14, 2014 10:27 p.m.

AlwaysRight: """Again, I disagree with this Indy fellow 99% of the time. I often think that his diatribes are contrived and an effort to be contrary just for the sake of being so. But, his right to say what he does and the contrast it brings to our thinking are important."""

Important to whom? How do you find any value in demeaning statements like these?

Indy: """It’s not to be unexpected the remark you make here since this board is dominated by conservatives that recite their party’s ideology repeatedly as if reciting it more than once makes it any more ‘true’ . . ."""

AlwaysRight, I think you're the only one who finds the daily diatribe of condemning anyone who doesn't share Indy's worldview as important. Perhaps you should get out more.


ricketzz: Posted: May 14, 2014 6:39 a.m.

I am Big Brother.



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