Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

June 5, 2012

Don’t Apologize for Your Opinions

by Chris Byrne

One thing that always bothers me, is when intelligent, thoughtful people; feel it is necessary to apologize for their ideas and opinions… or for even having ideas and opinions at all (much less opinions contrary to those around them, or which are unpopular).

You don’t have to apologize for your views to anyone, for any reason. They are yours (or at least, they should be… if they aren’t… if you’re just repeating things you’ve been told, or you don’t really understand or believe what you’re saying… well, you’ve got a different problem entirely).

Right or wrong, you have the right to an opinion (I don’t have to listen to you, but I can’t tell you you can’t have them); and unless you are violating others rights in doing so, you have the right to express those views openly, and to act on them appropriately.

The first freedom, is freedom of conscience. Without freedom of conscience, we are not men.

However, having and expressing views, carries an element of responsibility and duty with it.

First you must understand, you have the right to your own opinions, but not your own facts. If facts contradict your opinions, facts win, no matter what you think or what you want; and whether you recognize it or not. Reality is a harsh mistress, and it doesn’t respect your ideas, your opinions, your preferences, or your feelings… Reality respects only fact.

Before you express them publicly, you must always understand your own views as deeply and comprehensively as possible; including both the first principles which are their foundation, and the implications and consequences of them (as well as understanding that there will always be unforseen and unintended effects and consequences, to any action or decision).

You should always be prepared to defend your views; with both this understanding of them, and with examples from reality, when challenged. If you are unable to do this, you risk discrediting your views even if they are entirely and provably correct, simply because you were unable to effectively defend them (this is a very common problem unfortunately).

Finally, you must accept that your views may be wrong; and if proven (by either reasoning or reality) to be incorrect, incomplete, or improperly understood; you must be able to re-examine, and revise, or even replace them.

If you are incapable of this, emotionally or intellectually, you need not apologize for your views… but you certainly should not inflict them on others.

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