In praise of honest questions

No doubt you’ve heard about the kerfuffle surrounding Miss California in the Miss USA pageant on April 18.  If you haven’t then you are truly a blessed person and I’m going to introduce you to it – and thus remove your blessing I guess. Basically in the Q&A section she was asked whether she thought states should allow homosexual marriage.  She answered honestly and happened to say that she did not believe in homosexual marriage. She ended up as the runner-up – many people say she would have won has she answered the question oppositely. I really don’t care about her answer, which I thought was oddly phrased and not well thought out, but hey she was nervous and probably expecting a question about world peace or something. My problem is with the questioner, a well known tabloid personality, who happens to be very pro-homosexual marriage.  He asked the question thinking that he would get a particular answer based upon his bias and he didn’t get that answer.  Ever since he has ravaged this young lady at every opportunity, because she did not answer the way he would have liked.

There seems to be a prevailing thought in our culture that when you ask a question you deserve the answer you expect or want or at least a bland politically correct answer.  The idea that anyone would have an opinion other than ours is patently absurd. We proclaim the freedom of speech, but ravage people for not using that freedom to defend what we believe.  This is stupid. To be honest, I can’t stand it when people answer opinion questions in ways that I disagree with, but this is life – the way things should be.  Disagreement, cognitive dissonance, misalignment of opinion is what makes innovation and freedom possible. Asking questions and looking for unconventional answers is what provided the concept of the freedom of speech in the first place. In a society where all people think the same will not be unity but slavery to ideas.  It’s like in 1984 where all the people are told what to believe via their view screens, this is not utopia precisely because nobody is allowed to think.

When we have reached the point where questions are asked not to be answered honestly, but instead to make a political point we have lost some of our humanity.  There is an old journalism truism that says ‘don’t ask a question if you’re not ready for the answer’.  We need to embrace this ethic once again.  Our society will not progress if we’re heading toward a unity of ideas.  It is precisely the cognitive dissonance that occurs when questions are answered differently than we expect that provides us with the ability to move forward and find new, exciting ideas. So yes, Miss California should be praised for answering honestly, but the questioner should be ashamed of himself for asking a question and not wanting an answer but rather a political statement.


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