Professor Bryan Schwartz’s opening column of an eight part series examining how to move Manitoba out of the slow lane has prompted a wide ranging torrent of comments in the Winnipeg Free Press. Some are quite supportive and some are quite nasty. Being subject to childish and ad hominem personal attacks is a cost of the ideas war game that we play at think tanks like the Frontier Centre. It’s the price of broadening the discussion in a place that desperately needs some fresh ideas. I thought this comment captures Professor Schwartz’s analysis very well:
“Good public policy withstands scrutiny. Bad public policy doesn’t.
It is welcome to see the Free Press providing a forum for a piece that will help open minded citizens to scrutinize current public policy in Manitoba, to consider some of the key challenges of the day and to think about new approaches to solving them.
I think that this article is a model of first rate intellectual analysis. It proposes a original and incisive thesis in clear and well organized terms. The diagnosis of current conditions is carefully supported by references.
The childish and mean spirited ad hominem response by several posters will impress no one who actually takes the time to read the article with an open and attentive mind. If they lack the attention span to review the author’s footnotes, including facts and figures, they might at least have taken the trouble to read the main text.
The author is doing precisely what academics in the social sciences do when they are best: address important societal issues, stimulate discussion and propose solutions, all in a spirit of independence and intellectual honesty.
Sadly, anyone who writes a series like this must know that he will be subjected to the kind of feckless and vicious personal abuse that has already appeared on this site. It is not unlikely that there is already an organized coterie of bashers who will reflexively “thumbs up” even the most irresponsible comments here.”