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Rob Slane: Do you defend free speech? Take my test to find out

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Are you a liberal who is genuinely the very epitome of love and human kindness? Or do you find that when you come across a person holding contrary views, you find it hard to restrain yourself from shouting them down, launching ad hominem attacks on them, and screeching about how intolerant they are? Find out which type of liberal you really are by taking the Liberal Hate Detector Test. Are you able to hear a reasoned position and engage with it, or do you automatically assume that anyone holding a contrary position can only do so because they are filled with venomous hate? Be honest with your answers:

1. You are serving on a jury in a case where a policeman is on trial for shooting a black man under highly disputed circumstances. The case has caused a huge storm in the media and the whole country is awaiting the outcome with Twitter full of demands for justice. Just before the case begins, you ask one of your fellow jurors whether she thinks the accused man is guilty. She replies by saying it would be best to forget what the media has been saying about it and judge the case solely on the facts presented in the courtroom. From this you take it that she is:

a) A sensible woman who is just interested in establishing justice regardless of skin colour.
b) A contemptuous little racist who clearly hates black people and probably has links to the Ku Klux Klan.

2. An article appears in a newspaper critiquing a certain social position. You disagree strongly with what the author says and so decide to respond on a social networking site. Do you:

a) Set out a reasoned and well thought out response to the points made in the article, engaging with them and attempting to refute them.
b) Launch an ad hominem attack on the author, repeatedly pointing out that the person who wrote the piece can only possibly believe what they do because they are full of hate and that the world would be better off if people like them were all dead.

3. You are a teacher in a school and you find yourself speaking to a fellow teacher who says he believes that marriage is properly only between one man and one woman. You disagree with him and resolve to:

a) Try and find another opportunity to engage him in conversation where you can continue to discuss the subject in a mature and adult way.
b) Tell him that he is an intolerant bigot, before reporting the venomous snake to his superior, the board of governors, the police, and even the media. You then spend almost every waking hour doing all you can to make sure this hate-filled monster never teaches again.

4. An evangelical pastor, known to be opposed to the sexual revolution, is invited by your college to come and give a lecture. You resolve to:

a) Sit there and listen to what he has to say, and whilst not agreeing with him, recognise that free-speech depends on granting people like him the liberty to civilly put their case.
b) Constantly interrupt him from the moment he opens his mouth so that nobody can follow what he is saying because all they can hear are your chants of “Hatred and Intolerance: out, out, out!”

5. You find out that a family on your street home educate. Do you:

a) Think to yourself, “That’s okay. They are entitled to educate their children outside the state system, since education is primarily the responsibility of parents.”
b) Go on to your Facebook account and start ranting about how it ought to be illegal for parents to brainwash their children into believing in certain things, and that kids like these should be forced by the authorities to attend the local state school and learn the same things as the rest of us.

6. During a conversation with a friend, it becomes apparent that he has some doubts about whether man-made climate change is really happening. Do you:

a) Engage him in discussion.
b) Liken him to a Holocaust-denier, accuse him of putting the planet in jeopardy by his selfish and hateful views, and then go onto your Facebook account to portray him as a stupid and backward idiot to all your friends.

7. You read an article by a creationist who says that one of the major objections to evolutionism is that there is no known mechanism whereby abiogenesis can occur. Do you think to yourself:

a) Yeah, that is a bit of a problem I suppose.
b) Completely ignore the point about abiogenesis and instead engage in name calling, denouncing the author as a “backward imbecile who probably believes in the tooth fairy.”

Now tally up your total. You get 1 point for letter “a” and 0 points for letter “b”.

5-7 – Well done! You have passed the Liberal Hate Detector, showing yourself to be a fair-minded liberal, clearly able to see that it is possible for someone to hold a contrary opinion to your own without them necessarily having been driven to this position by irrational hatred.

2-4 – Could try harder. It is clear that on some issues you are able to tell the difference between a reasonable argument and spiteful hatred, but there are clearly a few blind spots that could do with a bit of working on.

0-1 – Hmmm! Not so good. You have failed the Liberal Hate Detector. As far as you are concerned, the mere fact that someone holds a different position to your own is all the proof you need that they are filled with malice and hate. However, might I suggest that far from this being a true reflection of your opponents, it could actually be an indication that you yourself are perhaps not quite as tolerant and full of the milk-of-human-kindness as you had supposed. Might I also suggest that it could be time for a bit of honest self-appraisal? Or would the very suggestion show just how intolerant and hateful I am?

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Rob Slane
Rob Slanehttp://www.theblogmire.com
Rob writes for a number of organisations on a wide array of subjects from a Christian/conservative perspective and blogs regularly at www.theblogmire.com

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