Saying stupid things is a basic human right

Yuval Noah Harari on saying stupid things in private:

[…] Again, one of the frightening things I see now, especially in democracies, is the way that the people at the top, especially politicians, are denied a private life. That anything they say at any moment can and will be used against them. And, as a public speaker, I know that when I speak in public, I have to make a very big effort to concentrate and to be very aware of what I’m saying. But then when I’m off record, I can let my mind rest. And part of resting is saying stupid things. Saying things you don’t think about carefully. The mind of every person is full of garbage. And I think this is a basic human right. You have a right to say stupid things in private. As a gay man, if a politician, tells a homophobic joke in private to some friends, and somebody records it, and it’s now on YouTube and Twitter and whatever, I don’t care.

I care what this leader says in public. If in public, he or she tell a homophobic joke, this is very bad because this is inciting hatred among millions. I care about their policies. But what they say in private, it’s not my business. Some people think the opposite. That, finally, we get to hear what they really think. This is their authentic self. What they say on stage, this is something that some spin doctor told them to say. What they really think, this comes out in private. And that’s a very dangerous direction because I don’t want authentic leaders. I want responsible leaders. Politics is not psychoanalysis. I don’t want somebody who stands there and just gives me his stream of consciousness. Anything that comes up in the mind immediately comes out of the mouth. That’s authentic, and that’s bad. We need people who have a barrier, a wall, between the mind and the mouth and think very carefully about what they say, because it’s a big responsibility. And then they should have the privacy to go somewhere and just say stupid and terrible things. That’s, you know, just being human.

Rolandas Barysas
Hello, my name is Rolandas Barysas. I write software for a living, splitting my time between freelancing and personal projects.