The hypocrisy of anti-criticism

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this old canard about how those who criticize others should not do so.  We, after all, are permitted to believe what we want and it is not the place of people like me to criticize them for their ideas, they’ll say. My immediate response is to ask them whether their criticism of my criticism is hypocrisy or not.

But beyond this is the notion that we are supposed to tolerate the views of others in general.  Is this really true?  Are we simply supposed to accept whatever others believe, no matter what, without challenge?  I think this is problematic for two reasons.

The first is that some people’s views are simply incorrect, and can be easily shown to be so.  The views of creationists who want to teach about Intelligent Design (or whatever the Discovery Institute is calling it now) in science class are simply untenable, and many have rightly stood up against such views.  Similarly, the idea that a god exists is untenable, and people of this blog and others rightly argue their points.

But the more interesting reason is that what happens when someones opinion is that one should criticize other people’s beliefs.  What happens when our naysayer accosts me for my criticizing others’ views and I follow up with my view that one should criticize others’ views.  For them to disagree would be to criticize and thus be a hypocrite, and to agree wold be to disagree with their own view.  Quite a quandary, eh?

The bottom line; if one claims that people should not criticize, they are either allowing the possibility of rampant stupid ideas to go unchallenged or are a hypocrite.  Or is this one of those both/and situations….


6 responses to “The hypocrisy of anti-criticism

  1. And suppose they are a hypocrite. At least in your eyes. Your criticism of them as a hypocrite is invalid in their own eyes. They are entitled to be hypocrites, as they do not judge others for their own thought and actions (or the contradiction between both). In fact, if we compare criticism to a moral stance, we could take this one step further. One could claim that the only valid moral stance to impose upon others is that no moral stance should be imposed upon others. This follows naturally from “treat as you wish to be treated”.

  2. Sure John. My moral stance is to criticize others. So don’t impose your moral stance on me to tell me I cannot.

  3. …but my moral stance is that the only moral stance valid to impose upon others is that one should not impose a moral stance upon others.
    I don’t really care that it is hypocritical. In your universe hypcracy is wrong, and in mine it is right (at least for this aim). I’m not saying that either of us is right and the other one is wrong. I’m saying that both are valid – that is the idea of moral relativism.

  4. Yes, but I’m not a moral relativist.

  5. Then maybe I should ask you why?
    I stumbled upon this blog completely by chance and from a rather shallow first impression I noticed that it is mostly about atheism (or maybe agnosticism?).
    Why would a person that defies dogma repeatedly in his blog embrace it in his moral values?

  6. It’s a blog for a local atheist organization.

    I am a skeptic. What dogma am I embracing?

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