Opposition voices are important, for we can never be sure of our blind spots.
For this reason, wise cultures safeguard opposition voices. One such powerful mechanism in the American government system is the “laboratory of the states” — federalism. This system allows failure on small scale (the States) and helps filter out failure on large scale (the Central Government). It allows for experimentation with the failure (dung piles) that result from such freedom. I value such freedom. Further, I like to see that freedom extended as far down the heirarchy as it can go — to the community, the family and the individual.
The trick is, when does someone else’s freedom interfere with another person’s freedom, safety and well-being? When should government step in and rightfully curtail freedom? I agree that this is a hard decision but over the years I have tended to error on the side of more freedom rather than less. Thus, though it comes with many undesired consequences (dung piles), I prefer to leave choices of child-rearing to the family: vaccines, religion, nutrition, circumcision, sleeping styles, discipline, education, TV watching and much more. I understand the downsides to this and regret them, but I see state control of these things as having potentially worse side effects.
This decision is probably far less rational than I’d like to imagine because I have made contrarian child rearing decisions throughout my parenting life. See my post called: “Our Pseudo-Amish Family“. I am probably merely defending my temperament. But then, my desire to defend my temperament, allows others also to protect their own too.
Two years ago I did a post called “The Social Function of Vaccine Resistors“, where I outlined some of the points I made in a contrarian presentation at a national conference on Public Health. The presentation discusses how though vaccines are a positive impact on Public Health, those who have resisted them have ironically improved vaccines. I am pro-vaccinations (though my children had a delayed schedule) — foregoing vaccines can result in unnecessary deaths. Likewise foregoing circumcision can have health problems. But vaccines and circumcisions can have non-negligible negative outcomes. People debate the costs and benefits. But for me, today, I want these decisions to remain at the family level, no matter how much I personally disagree with them.
Contrary voices come in many varieties: shrill, arrogant, obsessed, deluded, brilliant, fanciful, Machiavellian, creative and insightful. In Japan, my voice occasionally caused others to refer to me as an Amanojaku. The same tone may repulse one person and yet influence another. There is room even for the variety of tones. Opposition voices should be encouraged, not silenced.