Tuesday, October 09, 2012

The Trouble With Parrots

"I mean, why have a civilization anymore if we no longer are interested in being civilized?"
- Frank, God Bless America

So I've always been under the impression that proper discourse is a crucial element of a good education. A lot of human civilization's crucial discoveries are born out of conflict between opposing schools of thought. More often than not, intellectual rivals are motivated by mutual respect.

Then this happened. Followed by this. As a side note, I'm going to assume that both articles have been written by a single person, as the writing styles are similar, not to mention the arguments that were presented.

I'm not even going to argue against the writer's points on the RH Bill. He has presented his stance and that is a freedom he could enjoy (and I'd respect).

I'm not going to argue against his notion that the entire community he belongs to shares his views. The online backlash the articles received should be enough proof that he is mistaken.

I'm not going to bash (most of) the numerous fallacies that the pieces contain, even if Logic is a course taught on the first semester of a student's first year. Nor am I going to insult the editorial board for releasing the article before proofreading it and ensuring that it did not contain spelling and grammatical errors.

And I'm not going to ridicule the writer for committing friendly fire, and insulting other Filipinos, other students, other educators and perhaps most importantly, other Thomasians. It's his right, misguided as it is, to cast the first stone. It's his right to play the holier-than-thou card.

What I cannot accept, though, is the fact that the writer had to mock the importance of discourse, given the topic at hand. I do not understand why he had to throw away civility and resort to petty mudslinging to drive his points. I fail to see the purpose of dismissing educators and equating them to merely tools of indoctrination. There are plenty of ways to win an argument, but it's utterly pathetic when the first resort is an ad hominem attack.

I'm not sure if the writer was referring to the same university that I call my alma mater. I've spent four years in the University of Santo Tomas, and never was there an occasion where intelligent discourse had to give way to blind faith. UST has always been (and hopefully will remain) an institute of higher learning, and not a center for indoctrination.

Freedom may not be absolute, and I would agree with the writer on that statement. Our own freedom is limited by the respect we are morally obligated to show towards other people's freedom.

I've often pointed back to the late Pope John Paul II's encyclical Fides et Ratio, to show the dangers of practicing blind faith without reason, and vice versa.

Lastly, and on a completely unrelated note, I'd like to point out that Galileo was excommunicated for his scientific beliefs. Look how that turned out.

(In case the articles are taken down, I've also saved the articles in pastebin here and here.)

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