The Dignity of Dissent

“A free society depends on the dignity of dissent. Judaism itself is predicated on this principle. That is what is happening in the biblical dialogues between heaven and earth, and the rabbinic dialogues between Hillel and Shammai and their descendants. Dismiss a contrary view and you impoverish the entire culture. The book of Job is not about whether Job is right or wrong in his complaint about the injustice he feels has been done to him. Its purpose is to show that he has the right to speak, to challenge God, to be heard and (in some sense) to be answered. William Safire, a political journalist, perceptively called his book on Job The First Dissident. A healthy culture protects places that welcome argument and respect dissenting views. Enter them and you will grow, others will grow, and you will do great things together. But resist with all your heart and soul any attempt to substitute power for truth. And stay far from people, movements, and parties that demonize their opponents. As Barack Obama said: “If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far.”

Morality, p. 199