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Letter: Free societies pursue truth

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Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

Deseret News

John Stuart Mill, a 19th century English intellectual, wrote a very famous essay, "On Liberty." Mill provides a classic defense of freedom of thought and action. Everyone should be free to express his or her personal opinions without fear of government reprisal. Liberty and democracy are reciprocal ideas. Democracy, however, is not without its faults. Mill warned against "the tyranny of the majority." Because democracy is based on majority rule, safeguards must be put into place to protect minority rights.

A free society is one that values the pursuit of truth. Ideas cannot be evaluated by holding a shouting contest. Insults are not one of the criteria for evaluating the true value of an idea. Name calling, though it may be permissible behavior for children on the playground, is a sign of emotional immaturity. Nor can truth be arrived at by engaging in flights of fantasy; rather, it is the byproduct of rational, deliberative inquiry.

The spirit of America has been one that has cherished liberty. All of our wars have been fought to protect the blessings of freedom and to extend them to others. One of the conditions necessary for the exercise of freedom is maturity of judgment. Personal appetites cannot be allowed to outstrip civic responsibilities. No society is any better than the respect that it shows for the least of its members.

Stanley Ivie