Why pitting prejudices against each other keeps society free | Jonathan Rauch

Why pitting prejudices against each other keeps society free | Jonathan Rauch


We live in a liberal society – small ‘L’. That means we’re committed to values like
free speech and toleration. It means we try to create an open forum. And it also means we understand there are
going to be some obnoxious, and sociopathic, and racist, and anti-Semitic, and homophobic
people in our midst. And, to some degree, we not only allow that,
but we embrace it. Because it reminds us that these ideas are
there. And it reminds us that we’ve got to refute
them, and we’ve got to stay on our guard. As a gay person, I want to know where these
homophobes are. And I want to have the opportunity to refute
and debunk them. I don’t want to put them into hiding because
then they’ll emerge all the stronger at the other end. But there’s this age-old debate: What happens
if you’re so tolerant that the intolerant people gain the upper hand in society? Should you be tolerant of people who themselves
would not be tolerant? What about the neo-Nazi? This is someone who, if they come to power,
would shut me down. So I’m supposed to advocate their freedom,
knowing that they would never advocate mine? This is an age-old challenge. It’s a hard question. But right now in America it’s an easy question. Because here’s the thing. The important thing is not that every individual
in a society, in a country of 300 million people, should be tolerant. That’s impossible. That will never happen. Humans aren’t wired that way. The important thing is that the rules of the
society force people to subject their ideas to testing. So a crazy bigot with a conspiracy theory
will not get their ideas taught in the universities or in the textbooks, in the public schools. They’ll be marginalized. By the same token, these societies also commit
to free speech. If you have those rules in society as a whole,
it’s going to be a pretty safe place to express intolerance. Now, if you don’t have those institutions
solidly in place, if you don’t have courts that will vigorously enforce the First Amendment,
freedom of speech, if you don’t have universities and an intellectual culture which will hold
the line on fake knowledge and say, no, we’re only teaching true stuff here, then intolerance
becomes much more dangerous, because it becomes much more possible for the intolerant actually
to gain control and power in the society. Years ago, I was trying to think through the
approaches that people have to how we talk to each other in a complicated country like
ours and how we decide what’s true and what’s not. And I made a distinction between pluralism
and purism that seems to capture a lot of what’s going on. Pluralists I put myself in this camp believe
that the way you find truth is not by eliminating prejudice from society, because we’re all
prejudiced. It’s part of being human. We all have a point of view. We all have pre-existing ideas. We’re all stubborn and very attached to the
things that we think are true. Rather, the way you arrive at truth as a society
is you pit the prejudices against each other. So that means you don’t want to have unprejudiced
people. You just need to have a lot of different prejudices. You need intellectual diversity. And then those things will talk to each other. They’ll persuade each other. Sometimes they’ll conflict and criticize each
other. But it’s through that process that as a group,
as a country, as a society, we learn what’s true. And then I said, well, there’s a very different
group. That’s not the way, for example, a church
operates. There you’ve got an idea of some doctrines
that are believed to be true. And that’s a function of, they would say,
a higher power. But it’s also how we in that community define
our community. We believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ,
that he died for our sins. We also believe that, for example, homosexuality
is a sin. “No one’s born gay.” All kinds of things, for example, a religious
community might believe. And there are many secular communities that
also have these kinds of sacred beliefs, things that bind them together. It could be anti-racism, for example, something
that absolutely no one questions. And if you do, you’re going to be shunned. Now, I happen to agree with anti-racism. But what I don’t agree with is the implicit
attitude that lies behind some of these communities, which is ‘We already know what the truth is. And because we know the truth, we shouldn’t
tolerate or accept falsehood. We need to be pure as communities in our commitment
to the truth. We need to drive out and exterminate prejudice
and wrongheaded ideas. And it’s through that process that we’ll come
to knowledge.’ We are fortunate enough to live in a country
where pluralism is well-established under law and well-accepted by the American public. So right now we are nowhere near a line where
we would have to make the kinds of decisions that Germany had to make in the early 1930s. We can just say, yes, in America it’s legal
to be intolerant. It may not be right. It may not get you accepted or respected. But absolutely it’s legal and it should be
legal.

82 thoughts on “Why pitting prejudices against each other keeps society free | Jonathan Rauch

  1. Hmmmmm, he has a pretty good point. Everyone has prejudices and we always will, but we can only grow from it if we enter a debate.
    And that's where society goes wrong nowadays. Especially on social media, we have a "filter bubble". We only see and talk to the people that agree with us, it polarizes society without offering an opportunity to learn from it.

  2. Let's take it positively, we need to be prejudiced in order to be mature, being afraid of it will stop us to know/find the truth

  3. Centrist here. Both Liberals and Conservative issues need to be addressed in a civil manner. If all we do is keep arguing which side is right or wrong then nothing will be achieved.

  4. For a second, based on the title alone, I thought the guy was going to advocate for a race war. I'm glad I was wrong. Good video!

  5. Not one word about critical thinking and evidence based public policies? His definition of the word truth is a bit offensive and unqualified.

  6. Unfortunately, workshops and classes in some colleges teach things that contradict what you say. https://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/white-supremacy-culture-characteristics.html

  7. […]The rules of society force ppl to subject their ideas to testing"….Twitter and comments in Youtube are good for this.

  8. Honestly, I don't think most people care for what neo Nazis or white supremacists have to say. But, in the same aspect, most people don't want to be forced into these extremist groups just because they may not agree 100% on what another person says or believes. You have some in the trans community that feel if a cisgender white male doesn't find them attractive, they are instantly transphobic. If a black male is conservative, he is instantly labelled a "sellout" or worse. If a woman has an abortion, she is a "baby killer". We can have apposing viewpoints without having to attack the other person. Once, one starts making nasty remarks on the other person, the conversation shuts down and we get nowhere.

  9. Intolerant ideas do make it into textbooks. I was taught lost cause ideology growing up in the Deep South and that was from the textbooks we used.

  10. Prejudices will always be there.
    What we can do is to act righteously and challenge ourselves into expanding our beliefs. To be curious and ever growing.

  11. Teach critical thinking at a young age, children need to learn how to think, not what to think. With modern algorithms, people can go down rabbit holes and end up believing in a flat earth controlled by reptilian overlords, or worse demonizing whole groups of people and committing genocide. Take your pick.

  12. I, personally, don’t have any prejudices. Fucking Americans thinking they can tell me what I do and don’t have.

  13. Nope. I'm triggered. You shut up privileged gay man.
    Silence and conformity of ideas. A gray wasteland. Utopia.

  14. According to Christian doctrine it is not just homosexuality that is a sin, but any sex outside of marriage and for any purpose other than the procreation of children. Gays are not singled out in this. Sexual morality of Christians may seem like a high bar for many, and even the faithful are vulnerable to sin. No one is perfect except Christ and that is why there is forgiveness and mercy. The ideal is held up for a very good reason though, and that reason is that sexual immorality is incredibly destructive to the perpetrators, the communities to which they belong, and most especially, to children. It is a tough trade off for those indoctrinated into the cult of personal gratification, but nobody ever said that ethics and responsibility were easy. Misunderstanding of the motivation behind Christian objections to permissive sexual attitudes results in much alienation and resentment. You are not hated, you are prayed-for, just like all sinners, that they may come to know Christ and his teachings for their own sake and for the sake of community and children.

  15. Unfortunately intolerance has seeped into politics and politicians are creating intolerant laws. So now where does that leave us?

  16. Whyyyyy do people think the universities are a bastion of tolerance and clear thinking?! They are not, not even close.

  17. Critical thinking, skepticism (not simple cynicism) and argument from evidence. No more alt facts. I think these will be sufficient to reach consensus and show up dishonesty. But how many institutions can stand up to it any better than prejudice?

  18. Nope. Wrong. He misses the point entirely. The point of free speech isn't so that you can draw unpopular and controversial opinions out in order to marginalize them. The point of free speech is to allow unpopular and controversial ideas to be expressed WITHOUT fear of reprisal. The more you try to disenfranchise controversial and unpopular ideas, the more paradoxically that you end up enfranchising them. Collectivist types like this guy eventually figure that out, and so end up saying, "Wait. So social repression is insufficient to censor people I disagree with? Well then CLEARLY free speech doesn't work. Time to ban free speech!" That's the point we've reached, as a culture, in this time in history: people who once advocated free speech now oppose it, because they can't handle ACTUAL free speech.

  19. How many times is this channel going to put out propaganda making the case that society should infringe on the rights of people?
    Nobody is falling for the "nazi" label, everyone knows that is applied to whoever the anti-white establishment doesn't like, there is no common factor like "they all want to infringe on OUR rights so we should strike first!" That's dishonest, and everyone knows it's dishonest.
    So why are you doing this?

  20. Free Speech is a must but that does not mean all speech or views are equal.

    How to weed out false ideas:
    + Ask the person making a claim for his/her sources and for verifiable evidence to beck them up.

    – If they can't then they can be dismissed without evidence.
    – If they do provide sources and evidence then it is up to you to check them out to see if the sources are reliable/trust worthy as well as is the evidence verifiable. If not them provide examples why their source can't be trusted and/or why the evidence it faulty or unverifiable.
    – If their sources are reliable and the evidence is verifiable then you can have a conversation with them on that and you might have to reconsider your own position if it is different from theirs.

    – Those that tell you to do go look it up yourself are people who clearly have not verified their claims and are either just passing on what they heard from other non reliable sources or are making it up. IT IS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO DO OTHER PEOPLE'S HOMEWORK. The responsibility belongs to the one making the claim. If they don't then they should not credible.

  21. Y'know, I can't help but think that all these talks on free speech I see around are way too shallow to ever really address the issues they intend to…

  22. Q: "What happens if you are so tolerant the intolerant people gain the upper hand?"
    A: SJWs, 3rd wave feminism, Antifa.
    As a society we have been careful to watch out for far right bigotry, AKA Nazis, that we let these far left groups who are just as dangerous take a strong hold.
    Now as a person who spent his entire life voting for Democrats, i am being pushed to vote Republican just to try to wrestle power back from these other hate groups.

  23. I’m not convinced.

    Pitting prejudices against each other is only beneficial to knowledge if they are pre- judgements. If the topic has not been concluded then exploring different beliefs does help. But, if the conclusion is already known, yet the issue continues, society suffers.

    Free speech is not the same as lawless speech, and truth is not the same as democratic opinion.
    Hate does not need to be tolerated because of a belief that it contributes to knowledge. History can already provide that information. Particularly when the consequences impact a third party.
    Resolving ‘Belief vs Fact’ resolves much of the circular patterns of these debates.

    It interesting that belief is on the rise and so are the arguments trying to justify hate. Usually while hiding behind free speech. Topics that repeatedly reappear throughout history, even after society has already decided.

    And no, fear of what might happen is not a justification. That is no stronger an argument than ‘the god of the gaps’.

  24. bigots and imbeciles must be hunted down and exterminated. allowing their disease to spread is entirely unreasonable. the major flaw in your argument is that you assume that these ilk are capable of reasoning. they're not.

  25. It’s literally the first amendment to our constitution. Free speech is a major pillar of our country. Same with the separation of church and state.

  26. Prejustice traps whom who does it, into the vicious circle of heat and revenge.
    Mathematical Proof and Scientific Method are the answer to this problem.
    Hippasus of Metapontum and later Giordano Bruno died for it, the first one establishing
    Mathematical Proof as the Authority for Judging what is Aletheia and what is not
    bringing the Greek World to their Golden Age, and the Second one establishing
    the Scientific Method as the Complement of Mathematical Proof into the Real World.
    Humanity still struggles to move on and leave the Dark Age behind
    and give priority to the reason and the proof instead of the fight.
    Be aware. Dark Age is still here and we must be freed from it.

  27. Children need to be taught the value of admitting ignorance and listening to other peoples views. Children aren't being taught the right things. I know how ox bow lakes are formed however I don't know how to deal with common emotional problems

  28. 2:39 minutes in and I have to stop and strongly support the speaker. You're spot on! You rule mr speaker! This is my Big Think.

    It's not Mere exposure to ideas I don't like is akin to violence. It comes down to this question: _is speech violence or a way we avoid violence? _

  29. This video is great when you started making your point about the long debate about prejudices and if we should tolerate the intolerant, I instantly thought that education was the answer, but the way you framed it justified it which is great thought, also the importance of why prejudice is necessary if we simply say something IS it becomes ideology and we cannot accept that the truth most of the time if anything is actually "truth" or can be called that way is somewhere in the middle opposing thought is necessary for progress and we can't call education something that is ideologycal and unquestionable, everything has to be hypothesised and put to test to prove its veracity.

  30. This is not about intolerance. It is about epistemology. When Truth becomes liquid and subject to prejudice, it is merely subjective and debatable. “Forcing things out” is dangerous… because who decides?

  31. True, it's called discourse. This however only works with free speech. And a certain party is trying to go full 1930 on that front.

  32. That's not how it works. Competing prejudices don't cancel each other out, but open prejudices get debunked by sane positions if both can be expressed.
    Censoring the KKK and black israelites doesn't make more KKK and black israelites because they don't get access to each other, but because the sane positions don't get access to them.
    Of course, up to a limit, all positions are "immune" to criticism, confirmation bias makes sure of that, but the overarching result is a more sensible population than otherwise.

  33. People won't be tolerant…because not everyone is wired this way? Presupposing tolerance (or any held belief) is predetermined, set in stone and purely the result of uncontrollable adecedent factors. Philosophical determinism. A view of man as a zombie blowing in the wind.

  34. No offence intended, but this sounded naive.

    '…i dont want them to be put into hiding because they'll emerge the strong at the other end' — you now, ive heard people express variations of this premise many times, but ive never seen any evidence that this is actually true.

    Legality is one matter, tolerance is another. History indicates that if you prioritise liberal values like free speech you can unwittingly open the door to fascism. It's naive to think that if you simply allow all ideas to compete equally people will opt for the good ones. People dont work like that; they gravitate to ideas because of their emotional pull much of the time, not because of their logic or factual basis.

  35. I think AI throws a wrench into all of this. AI is based on logic. AI that will govern many national and corporate systems will be logic-based. Our collective beliefs will be forced to increasingly move from how we "feel" about something to whether it makes logical sense. Being racist, sexist, homophobic, with the claim "that's just how I feel" won't be a valid point of view. If there is no readily available valid logic behind a point of view then it's a waste of time.
    Who is going to waste time discussing with serial killers why they think killing people is OK. We're moving quickly to a reality where a serial killer is simply detected during a routine quick brain scan, the areas that lead them toward being homicidal are isolated, and they'll be required to have a procedure, medication, or therapy to normalize those brain areas. Racism, sexism, etc will probably be handled similarly. Prejudices should be treated with therapy at the minimum. Saying, "We all have prejudices," as if shrug oh well I guess there's nothing to do about it really shines a light on current mental health therapy in the world. Having prejudice without a valid logical reason beyond your own personal experience is literally insanity.

  36. I've said similar for years. Trying to shame ppl into not hating, or hate them into not hating, etc. doesn't work. Talking, RESPECTFULLY, openly and honestly, MIGHT. Exposing ppl to different helps. I DO agree with the legalities against prejudice, but for ALL prejudice. Imho. Not an easy fix, and an emotional topic. 🙂

  37. we live in a liberal society, that means we're committed to values like free speech and toleration… WHAT?! WHAT?! LMAO

  38. Most bold man who where glasses are child rapist.
    Just wanted to test his theory. Lets see how he survives.

  39. I dig it. you tell people what they can and can't say they just think it anyways. ferments and festers. and violence almost always stems from resentment. who cares if people are stupid? or judge my deviances? hell, I gain singularness and strength from that contrast. all that manners shit is just obfuscation of capital. all that obsession with categorization and division just distractions from the power of precious time being stolen from snowflakes and rightards alike.

  40. Far Left wing 'Progressive' ideology has control and power in universities, and they are teaching very untrue and unscientific things in the name of 'tolerance.' So sadly, your idea is moot, as much as I agree with you that everyone's liberties must be respected and upheld.

  41. It's a reversal of situations though, the intolerant became tolerable. (homesexuals, satanists, socialists, black people, etc etc) once upon a time these people had no say because they were abhorrent. but when we started a genuine dialect with them we realised it was all very silly.

    Now the Liberals are in charge, and the conservatives are making a comeback, tolerate them and we could recitivise to the days of prejudice.

    your argument is that free speech gave everyone of us equal liberty & freedom which is fundamentally true. but remember that it's a double edged sword, it is not a perpetual notion of infinite improvement. and don't be so naive as to believe that evil always loses.

  42. Who else was totally prepared to hate this video and then slowly realized he was saying all the right things? Big Think has been kinda shit lately but this one is good.

  43. Courts have been usurped by corporate interests and really only support the speech of corporations while calling anyone who points out truth (J Assange) a traitor or a slander. Meanwhile academic institutions act as gatekeepers keepers who profit greatly off of the desperation of students with the cost to go to college increasing 1100% in only the last 2 decades.

  44. The intolerant are already in positions of great power all over the world, Aka D trump, Netanyahu, Joe Biden, etc and so forth.

  45. This video is a great example of someone drawing the wrong conclusions: Yes, free speech is necessary, to identify and educate the intolerant to treat others as they themselves would like to be treated; not to marginalize them as Jonathan advocates. Prejudice disappears when people's empathy is engaged.

  46. There's a big glaring problem with all of this. mozlems have existed for 1400 years without ever altering their beliefs, and they are taking action to commit genocide against the whole rest of the world (it's foundational to their doctrine https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/05/is_islam_a_genocidal_religion.html ). How can we allow them to exist when their beliefs are unshakable and they are taking action to commit genocide? You can't always just roll over and allow anything in society, you WILL wind up dead.

  47. Mr. Rauch has a great point here. I've been listening to Gavin McInnes a lot the past couple of days. I don't agree with everything he has to say, but I sure do appreciate his point of view. And he's very entertaining. But he also makes me think critically about my own point of view. It's a tragedy how the SPLC and mainstream media is trying to silence him. He deserves a voice, and luckily still has one on a few platforms that will reach people.

  48. This video is an exercise in cognitive dissonance. I couldn't finish it. We do not live in a liberal society, right off the bat. If anything, we're moving toward an illiberal and intolerant society and that too being driven primarily by left, as suggested by evidence all around us. The speaker should refer to Sargon's video > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3I1YDbSLQk

  49. The real question is how we should deal with intolerance at a personal level. Will you be friends with them? Will you call them over for dinner? or will you just work with them when you have to? Basically, are these platforms only large public platforms or are these personal private platforms.

  50. The idea of "tolerance" isn't even real. Is sounds good, but no. The so called tolerant are intolerant of people who are intolerant.

  51. See, I don't believe in pluralism. It is established and accepted only in narrow areas that have historical roots. This "diversity for diversity's sake" is ridiculous. Humans aren't wired that way. And the liberal left has already defined where THEIR pluralism ends and this is accepted by their believers with religious conviction. Conservatives have different areas where they accept pluralism. It would seem the only way out of this dilemma is through some type of power struggle, hopefully nonviolent. So we see both sides vying for power while dismissing the opposition and setting them up as enemies. And doing so with these academic sounding arguments.

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