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On being bravely wrong

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I had a very interesting discussion on twitter with @teltos this morning, about the value of provocative statements. The statement in question was from Julie Bindel, and was suitably inflamatory.

Bindel

People were surprised and angry about it… and there’s value in that. It can genuinely make people think. It makes people question the frame of a debate, or even go on to have a completely separate debate.

Twitter culture discourages people from sticking their neck out. It tends to leap on unpopular statements and give them a kicking until they cry (or protect their tweets).

I enjoy people making ridiculous statements. It’s how we all learn, I think. I don’t think the worst thing in the world is saying something awful. It’s not just a matter of freedom of speech, it’s also a productive form of discord, at least some of the time.

Other times it’s just an invitation to flame war, but there you go. This post is a tribute to people who “go too far” and aren’t polite, who say things to goad a reaction out of a complacent debate framework. (I have no idea if this was Bindel’s reasoning, by the way, I’m just going by her effect.)

Another example… I’ve recently been reading Andrew Marr’s History of the World. He is often heroically, pig-headedly wrong in it. And there’s joy there – there’s human warmth, even if it’s the warmth that creates fury. I think there’s a lot to be said for the grit in the oyster of talk.

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