Are 9/11 “Truthers” an Abomination?

Jeff Johnson Hennepin County Minnesota

Jeff Johnson

Are 9/11 “Truthers” an abomination?  Carrie Lucking of Alliance for a Better Minnesota seems to think so.  She’s up in arms and condemning Minnesota GOP governor candidate Jeff Johnson for attending a truther event.  She’s demanding an apology.

Lucking says the “claims made at this event are an abomination to the people of Minnesota.”  Jeff Johnson, she says, “should be ashamed of supporting these hurtful groups and Minnesota deserves an apology.”

Boy, I don’t know…is attending a “truther” event on the level of fomenting racial hatred or religious intolerance?  And who judges?

Carrie Lucking Alliance for a Better Minnesota

Carrie Lucking

What about the University of Minnesota and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, should they apologize?  Should they stop hosting forums that might present opposing — even potentially offending — ideas?

On just about any given day on any subject I will side with Lucking (Alliance for a Better Minnesota is on my blog roll!), but on this one I feel uneasy.  It is a slippery slope if we start condemning people for attending events, regardless of how  offensive or unbelievable you believe the subject to be.

Moreover, do we know why Jeff Johnson attended the event?  We don’t always agree with the people with whom we associate, do we?   I’m not likely to agree with Jeff Johnson on much and defending him doesn’t mean I agree with his 9/11 views — I don’t even know what those views are — but I think it is his right to attend or not.  Let the voters decide.  I’m sure many conservatives frown upon alternative 9/11 narratives.Truth in Media Announcement

And just on a simple level of open discourse Lucking’s reaction strikes me as dangerous.  It is important to foster environments of free ideas rather than discourage them.  What protects us from pre-judgement when we do need to question what appears obvious?

Plus there’s an entire conspiracy around assassination of John Kennedy.  Most people don’t give it a thought.  And what about those people who think Pearl Harbor was allowed to get us into World War 2?  Is one nutty idea less offensive than another?  Why?

What happens when a nutty idea isn’t a nutty idea?

There are many reasons to oppose Jeff Johnson, but I don’t think this is one of them unless it becomes part of a campaign.  Then you judge on how this affects leadership and policy issues.  We’re not there now.  Johnson attended a public meeting hosted by the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

You can judge Johnson by his beliefs and associations, but I don’t think you can demand an apology for them.  Expecting one runs contrary to principles of free ideas and open discourse.

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