Friday, October 1, 2010

Quote of the Day

A radical proposition: the United States is the natural homeland of the gravely mistaken.

I don’t mean this as a criticism, and still less as jingoism. Nor do I mean that Americans are more wrong than anyone else (doubtful) or more right, either (ditto). I mean that respect for error was a driving force in the founding of our nation. We are a young country built on a mature idea: that all of us must be at liberty to make mistakes. We are free to say things our fellow citizens think are untrue, worship gods our neighbors regard as idols, hold fast to convictions that contradict those of our leaders.

We think of these liberties as embodying the American tolerance for dissent. But our nation’s founders were not simply some kind of 18th century ACLU, fighting to protect everyone’s right to express even the fringiest beliefs. Instead, they protected minority opinions for a pragmatic reason: they recognized that, over time, the fringe rather than the mainstream might prove right. What they inscribed in the Constitution was an awareness of the perpetual possibility that we are mistaken. ~ Kathryn Schulz

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