Don’t Be Silent

by | Feb 28, 2023

We should reject the fashionable idea that one should never write or post anything that possibly could be used by bad people for bad purposes. That admonition brings two things to mind.

First, it fails its own test. If good people avoid a topic because even constructive analysis might be put to bad use, the very avoidance will likely fuel conspiracy theories about how this or that interest group controls the public debate. Thus the fashionable idea is self-subverting — much as the precautionary principle is.

Second, it reminds me of what Ludwig Wittgenstein, in a very different context, wrote in concluding his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” There are no chilling implications in Wittgenstein’s maxim because he literally meant can not, as opposed to may not. The same can’t be said for the fashionable maxim.

Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He is the former senior editor at the Cato Institute and Institute for Humane Studies; former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education; and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation. His latest books are Coming to Palestine and What Social Animals Owe to Each Other.

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