Consent is paramount. Anything we do that involves another person, be it sex, work, or just holding a conversation, requires that all parties involved give their consent. Any rational person who cares about personal choice would agree with me here.
Yet our perspectives of consent are becoming warped. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, a new debate over how to ensure consent is both explicit and mutual has arisen. This alone isn’t a problem; of course we should be working to ensure this.
But the issue is becoming increasingly trivialised, and our view of consent as being willful interaction between two or more persons is beginning to morph into mollycoddled nannying, with adults being treated like children who don’t know how to make their own decisions.
Misconceptions of the Open Society
Is it necessary to be intolerant of the intolerant? Perhaps so; if we wish to preserve our liberal-democratic way of life, it makes sense to ensure those who would establish tyranny never achieve power. This is the theory put forward by philosopher Karl Popper in his ‘Paradox of Tolerance’ model. He argued that:
“Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”
Popper was correct in his argument; we should be intolerant of the hateful and the violent, and I would argue many of us already are. But what does it actually mean to be ‘correctly’ intolerant in this sense? How do we limit our intolerance to those who truly deserve it, without restricting the freedom of the individual to choose?
Emotional. Tribal. Irrational. These are just three adjectives which could be applied to the political discourse of the 21st century. Both in the United States and Europe, discussions have reverted from constructive criticism and mutual understanding to name-calling, de-platforming, and retreats into echo chambers. None of this is particularly useful for a pluralistic society.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Back in the days of Ancient Rome and Greece, the founding fathers of the stoic school of philosophy taught the importance of clear-mindedness and rationalism in the development both of the self and of society. Here a three of these lessons which now, more than ever, need to be relearned.
In two-party democracies such as ours in the UK, true representation can become a tricky thing to achieve. Voters are often left to choose whomever they perceive to be the lesser of two evils, and third-parties can seldom achieve any real power in Westminster (the exception of course being the Liberal Democrat’s short-lived stint between 2010 and 2015). Indeed, democracy in Britain has long been criticised for its inability to provide real representation to its citizens.
It’s not uncommon that certain ideals will have a political bias attached to them. The immigration debate, for instance, has long taken a left-vs-right structure, as has the gun debate. You can usually make an educated guess at someone’s political leanings based on the positions they take on certain issues.
But today, many seem to think this applies to one of the most fundamental pillars of democratic society; the right to free speech. Not only has the freedom to express oneself somehow become a controversial issue, but some people now see taking a pro-freedom stance on speech as evidence that one is somehow a right-winger.
This perception is both false and problematic. Why, then, has free speech suddenly become a facet of the right?
Few transactions require quite so high a degree of trust as those between medical professionals and their patients. In placing their lives and wellbeing in the hands of doctors, patients must forgo a certain degree of bodily autonomy to a another. To ensure that this trust is not abused, doctors have for years taken a promise to put the wellbeing of the patient above all else. This promise is, of course, the Hippocratic Oath.
Recently, many supermarkets in the UK have voluntarily decided to impose a ban on selling highly-caffeinated energy drinks to children under the age of 16. In an interesting turn of events, the retailers themselves have decided to self-restrict in this manner, without the state’s usual heavy-handed imposition.
This is really a first for the UK, whose government is usually chomping at the bit when it comes to controlling our decisions. Be it protecting us from the dangers of cigarette packaging, or the second-largest party suggesting a ban on junk food commercials, or simply taxing all of our favourite vices to death, Britain is usually the European flag-bearer of nanny statism.
The unique British brand of state interference, however, has left teens in the UK with some rather juxtaposing freedoms. Here are three fun things you can do as a British 16-year-old (and three things you can’t).