July 10, 2009

Intellectual Honesty

I know Matt removed this post from his blog, but I am happy that it still showed up in my RSS Feed. He couldn't have said it better and I couldn't agree more and thought this was worthy of being re-posted!!! 

Intellectual Honesty

I unfollowed several people on Twitter over the past week in response to Tweets about Sarah Palin. Without diving too deeply into politics here, let me explain. I totally understand the desire to criticize public figures. We should. I know I certainly do. But what I will never understand, or tolerate, is intellectual dishonesty in doing so.

Over the last few weeks, Republicans have had a Governor lie about his whereabouts and cheat on his wife, while another Governor abruptly resigned from her post with an almost incomprehensible speech. Each deserves, at a minimum, some scrutiny. Both were considered to be possible GOP candidates for the 2012 Presidential Election. In one case, that possibility is long gone. In the other, who knows? Either way, their decisions were at best questionable, and were at worst criminal.

So, do I expect criticism? You betcha (couldn't help it). They deserve it.

What's my beef, then? The same people that criticize Mark Sanford for infidelity, worship Bill Clinton. The same people who mock Palin for being inexperienced or "Mavericky", say nothing about Joe Biden's countless gaffes. The same people who decry Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity as extremist wackos have nothing to say at all about Chris Matthews', Katie Couric's, or Keith Olbermann's obvious partisanship.

If you're going to make a point, on either side of a debate, at least have the intellectual honesty to use the same standards to critique the other side of the issue. Occasionally, even. Otherwise, you really aren't adding anything to the conversation - at least on anything more than a sophomoric level. It's much easier to claim side A wears the white hat and side B wears the black hat, I know. But that's not civilized debate. That's Saturday morning cartoons. Bugs Bunny isn't always right, and Elmer Fudd isn't always wrong. Be intellectually honest, or shut up.

I have always enjoyed following David Gerbino (@dmgerbino), a community banker from New York, on Twitter. But I think now I know how he must feel over the several years he's followed credit union people. Banks are always evil, and credit unions are always good. That must be the message he sees. Truth is, there are many community banks that do a better job of "credit unioning" than some credit unions. I believe the core principles of the credit union movement, when correctly implemented, yield amazing consumer-centric benefits for members. But who am I, or you, to say that our way is good and some other financial institution's way is evil? That's simply not true, and things aren't that simple.

If you truly believe in "Change," refocus your criticism at the entire universe of ideas - not just the subset of thought that you have predetermined to be faulty. You will find yourself on the same overall side of issues, I have no doubt, but you at least won't come across as a boring hack toeing a party line.

PS. After writing this, I realized that by unfollowing the people I did, I was countering intolerance with intolerance. That's no solution.


  1. Appreciate the re-post! I still stand behind my comments, and the sentiment. I took this post down from my blog because I didn't think it was a good fit for what people expect from my site. While I realize that it's my blog, and that I can write anything I want to on it...I just got a feeling that I may have been letting loyal visitors down if I changed the format of my site. I may have made the wrong call, maybe not...but I'm glad that some people got some good out of the post while it was up.

  2. Great comment and observation. It's a frustrating by-product of the left and right wing media zealots that has us in this fix. It gets harder and harder to find anyone willing to engage in meaningful debate that even hints at the possibility of actually changing someone's mind. I respect anyone who recognizes those with differing political views are not the anti-christ. Unfortunately, I run into them about every Leap Year. It's frustrating and sad. Worse still, I'm not sure how to fix it.

  3. @CUWarrior - I heard about this post but hadn't read it yet. I'm glad it was re-blogged. It should be.

    It's always dangerous when you talk politics for exactly the reasons you state. People can be idiots with their allegiance. For these zealots there is no debating. It's blinders on and batter up! Anyone's fair game who doesn't agree with them.

    Thanks for your courage warrior!!!


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