A Few Points of Order

The fact that I call my organization “I Love Puppies” does not prove that I love puppies, let alone that anything my organization does or advocates is actually good for puppies. Conversely, the fact that you disagree with or criticize my organization’s principles or proposals in no way proves that you hate puppies or wish to harm them. No group may be considered above reproach merely because it claims to represent something righteous; no individual may be condemned as unrighteous or evil merely because he questions or criticizes a group that claims to represent righteousness.

It is false, though extremely common, to assume that any side in a great public debate, including the side which seems more aligned with your personal beliefs, is in effect you writ large. In particular, it is wrong to assume, even implicitly, that your preferred side in a great public debate is your agent in the debate. On the contrary, it is reasonable, in the sense of comporting with the evidence of history, to assume that you, qua lone individual and private citizen, have no true representative in any public debate, but only factions with which you are somewhat more inclined to agree today, and factions with which you are somewhat less inclined to agree. That is to say, the only reasonable adult position is to stand permanently and fully as your own agent, however weak and ineffective that position may leave you in practical life. In the end, yours is the only agency in which you ought to have any faith, and to cede it to any public faction or figure, no matter how seemingly effective, agreeable, or charismatic that faction or figure may be, is to sell your soul for a slug.

It does not follow from the fact that an individual has chosen not to identify himself too closely with either of the leading sides in a great public debate that his own position lies somewhere between those two sides, as though distancing himself from both necessarily entailed striking some sort of compromise with each. It entails no such thing.

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