Saturday, January 15, 2005

Further thoughts on previous post: control through fear

Last night we got some pizzas and watched The Village with our kids. There are those who say that this movie was Shyamalan's weakest effort. Regardless of whether that's a good assessment or not, the movie makes a great point.

If you don't want me to ruin the ending for you, don't continue reading this!

The movie is about a group of people who, out of fear, have disengaged from the rest of the world and created their own isolated community that is a throwback to an earlier, simpler, more religious time. In order to maintain the community through future generations, the founders (elders) borrowed on an old legend of fearsome creatures in the woods to keep the younger people from leaving the confines of the community, exploring the outside, and discovering that reality is very different from what they have been led to believe. Out of their own fear, the elders use fear as a tool to keep those in their charge in ignorance and bondage.

It seems to me that those who want exclusive control of what goes on in public school (or university) classrooms, whether they be humanistic academics or their fellow-travellers in the mainstream media, are doing something similar. They know that there are viewpoints other than their own with equal (if not better) claims to evidence and reason, and out of fear that students might embrace them they seek to maintain their views as the only ones that students are exposed to. Obviously, the "scary creatures" gambit isn't going to work, so they attempt to frighten the public and decision makers (and so keep them under control) by other means. Here are some of the bugaboos:

"Your kids' education will suffer if they hear other viewpoints!"

"Science, and so technology and prosperity will suffer if students hear other viewpoints!"

"We are Educated, Tolerant and Inclusive. Those who dissent are Ignorant, Narrow-minded, Reactionary and other bad stuff."

"If you voice disagreement with us, we will publicly depict you as Ignorant, Narrow-minded, Reactionary and other bad stuff."

"Those who dissent are trying to force their views on everyone!"

Seems to me that those who are confident of the truth of their position have no need to be afraid of questions or dissent, and certainly don't have to resort to censorship.