Ilya Shambat

Ilya Shambat
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
November 21
Adda Enterprises
Born in Russia, family moved to America when I was 12. Got a degree from University of Virginia at 18. Worked for Oracle, translated four books of classical Russian poety, was part of San Francisco and Washington, DC poetry and music scene. Good friends with San Francisco's own Persephone's Bees and acquainted with Patch Adams. Currently married with children, residing in Australia and working on a clean energy technology implementation.


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FEBRUARY 11, 2013 7:40PM

Thomas Jefferson vs. Political Correctness

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Political correctness is wrong for any number of reasons, not the least of them being that it militates against free speech. It not only militates against free speech; it also militates against all meaningful discourse. If the standard is that nobody can say anything that offends anyone else, then nothing meaningful is allowed to be said. All meaningful speech will be controversial, and all controversial speech will offend someone. The solution is not to outlaw meaningful free speech but to meet offensive and wrongful attitudes with better attitudes.

Here is an example of an offensive statement:

"Obama wants women to die in combat but will not let mean beat their wives. Is he protecting women or is he not?"

As a supporter of women's rights I find this statement offensive. But my approach is not to suppress it but to meet it with reason. My response to that statement is that it's a matter of choice and liberty. The woman who chooses to put herself in the harm's way for her country has made that decision; whereas most women who are being beaten by their husbands have not chosen to be beaten by their husbands.

Thomas Jefferson once stated in a debate, "Sir, I detest everything you have just said, but I'd fight to my death for your right to have said it." There needs to be more of that spirit now in America. Instead of suppressing what people feel and what people think, it is important instead that they be allowed to articulate what they feel and what they think. And then it will be possible to address these things in an informed manner, instead of remaining clueless on the subject and, being clueless, making wrong choices in politics and policy.

Not everything that people will have to say will be nice or polite. And that is to be expected. The solution is not driving these things underground but following the law of the land - the law of free speech - and meeting offensive attitudes with intelligent refutations, while also recognizing situations where those attitudes may have validity. In either case, it's better to know than to not know; and one will only know when there is free speech.

So it's about time that more people do away with political correctness and let in the Constitution. And when offensive attitudes strike, confront them with real intelligence and influence the next person to see things in more intelligent ways.

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