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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

A preemptive war on knowledge?

language, Politics

President George W. Bush believes that the safety of the United States depends on "preventing (Iran) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."

It's an extraordinary idea, this "knowlege prevention." Google doesn't even recognize the term. Anything you find with both "knowledge" and "prevention" is about avoiding losing knowledge.

The first time I heard the expression "preventing . . .knowledge" in October, I wrote it off as more language blundering. But with the new National Intelligence Estimates-fueled debate about whether Iran really has stopped pursuing nuclear weapons, the phrase is being used with the frequency of propaganda.

I'm not sure how you enforce ignorance. Shut down the schools? Burn the books? Imprison the scientists? The knowledge in question doesn't belong to the United States. It belongs to those who can discover and apply it.

This isn't to say that Iran isn't dangerous. It certainly is. Whatever National Intelligence Estimates show, it seems reasonable to assume that if Iran isn't pursuing nuclear weapons at the moment, it will. Knowledge, after all, is power--nuclear or otherwise.

The work of someone who calls himself the leader of the free world isn't to prevent people from having knowledge. It's to persuade them not to use it badly--the work of diplomacy.

Sometimes, force is needed to prevent bad acts. But not to prevent knowledge.

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