Now a new and (I think) much needed expression: ‘disagreement consent’. It’s a play on a more familiar expression I learned from Nigel Farage: ‘loser’s consent’. In a speech he gave in Sydney he said that ‘democracy depends on loser’s consent’ – something the Democratic Party failed to do spectacularly in 2016, and were then surprised to see Donald Trump spring back on them in 2020.
If ‘loser’s consent’ is essential to the working of democracy, ‘disagreement consent’ is essential to civilised discourse. The reason social media is so angry and bitter is because of the absence of ‘disagreement consent’.
If we are to start teaching students about ‘consent’ perhaps it could be extended from moments of intimacy to moments of debate. Perhaps they could be taught that a condition of taking part in public debate is that you give your consent to others to disagree with you.
It’s a simple expression (and not a complicated idea) but without it the public square becomes the scorched earth of a bitter battle zone.
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