The View From Here – It is infantile to permit only innocuous questions and to only acknowledge favourable answers

Tom Henihan

There was yet another online show of righteous indignation and moral outrage when a recent Aeroplan survey posed questions on immigration, gender roles in society and same-sex marriage.

The survey questions were couched as statements such as “Whatever people say, men have a certain natural superiority over women, and nothing can change this.” – “Overall, there is too much immigration. It threatens the purity of the country,” and ”The father of the family must be master of his own house.”

Those who agreed to participate in the survey could respond to these statements with answers covering an arc from totally agree” to “totally disagree.”

No matter how unsettling a question may be, to assert that it cannot be asked is a dangerous infringement on free speech and imposes intellectually and morally sanitizing restrictions that are in the realm of groupthink and totalitarianism.

Yes, the questions may be a little disconcerting but to forbid the asking of such questions creates an infantile society akin to children putting their hands to their ears to avoid being confronted by troubling questions or exposed to unfavourable answers.

In our current social environment, ignorance isn’t just bliss, it is righteousness.

The old saying, “fools ask questions the wise cannot answer,” should now have the adjunct “and it is foolhardy to ask questions the politically correct would prefer to leave unanswered.”

Alain Giguere, president of CROP, the research company that scripted the Aeroplan survey, apologized for the negative fallout the survey caused.

To his credit, however, he did not apologize in typical fashion, as he stood by the value of the questions on immigration, marriage and gendered, expressing regret only for compromising his client, Aeroplan’s parent company Aimia.

Giguere rigourously defended the value of the questions, pointing out that the same questions have been used for over twenty years in surveys for other prominent companies.

It is significant that questions that could be asked over the last two decades without provoking a righteous backlash, that those same questions are now taboo.

It is also significant that the questions a skittish public now finds so objectionable have solicited overwhelming affirmative outcomes that would make no one uncomfortable.

Across Canada, the majority of people see immigration as positive for the country and most don’t believe that men have to be the master of the household.

Of course, who would have known if these questions were never asked or if everyone ran off in a righteous tizzy and refused to listen or respond.

People have the right to be offended, though far too many make a very grandiose display of it these days.

They insist that their subjective, response is a matter of public concern and society should correct itself along their political and temperamental fault lines.

Besides, as in this instance, simply asking a question does not oblige anyone to answer, at least not aloud.

However, having those questions asked and silently answered can still be useful and edifying.


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