Monday, February 4, 2008

I appreciate dissent

I'm reading an article, a work of literary criticism, where the author, a professor of Asian American literature, synthesizes two different sides of an argument and adds a third point-of-view, and then displays the ways in which she dissents from all three positions to create her own thesis/interpretation.

This is the bread and butter of academics--being able to synthesize other arguments and then show how you are doing something different--to dissent.

This is also the bedrock of democracy.

I found this image by doing a google search under "dissent"--others I considered were quotes and paraphrases from Thomas Jefferson saying that "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."

A while back, on this blog, I struggled with this issue when I rejected my first comment--because I believe that anyone coming to this blog should absolutely feel free to dissent from my opinions and should express that dissent. Because this is a series of "appreciations" I suppose I shouldn't ruminate on this too much, but I think the catch is how to express dissent--how to express our disagreements with one another while still being respectful and still being able to hear one another's point-of-view.

I don't have the answer to this, but I do truly appreciate dissent. I think it gets confused for a lot of things--insubordination, insurrection, debate. There are elements of dissent in all these things, but at heart I believe dissent is offering another perspective. Dissent tells us that not everyone agrees, that there isn't only a single point-of-view. Dissent makes room for difference and does not preclude consensus, because you can agree to disagree. Allowing dissent allows for free discourse, open communication, multiple voices. Who wouldn't appreciate that?

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