Silencing Important DiscussionSeptember 23, 2007
Yesterday, I noted that the North American Mission Board refused to allow Ed Stetzer to speak to Christianity Today. The Columbia Missourian recently ran an excellent article that deals with a similar issue. It is entitled "Speaking with 'one voice' silences important discussion." Here are a couple of highlights:
I want to celebrate the muck and messiness of democracy.It seems that this is the same problem NAMB was making--trying to not allow someone to speak because some Baptists might not like what he has to say. But the chosen path--silencing of discussion--is more harmful than any of Stetzer's comments would have been. It is time to allow free and open expression of differing perspectives.
Here's the story: At this month's Airport Advisory Board meeting, member David Rosman suggested the board speak with "one voice" when dealing with the media. According to the Missourian reporter who attended, the idea was to appoint one person to respond to all inquiries. Questions would be in writing. It didn't happen. Other board members declined to muzzle themselves.
... But this was an important moment. Because if "one voice" is efficient and pleasant - no dissension in the ranks - it is also dangerous to the health of meaningful talk in our town.
... I'm sure there are times when a board member's opinions on an issue have been misconstrued as the voice of the body politic. The other option is just plain scary: Voluntarily silence yourself. What purpose would that serve? Why is it so bad to voice an opinion that another board member might disagree with - in public?
Silence is tempting these days when our national leaders and pundits preach the gospel of division. Politics has become a bad name. As a nation, we have forgotten how to be civil and disagree at the same time.
... It makes me wonder how many other boards and commissions and committees and other public entities consider it their role to speak with "one voice."
The founding fathers said unfettered speech is an awfully important thing. Let's have more of it, not less.