Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Consistently Craving Consistency

What do you get when you mix a strong adherence to principle and worldly practicality? You get Mr. R. C. Hoiles.

We were first introduced to Mr. Hoiles in Issue 17 and I commented on a few ways I personally connected to this man, one being that I write a column for a local newspaper.

Now, after reading the feature article in Issue 18, “To Thine Own Self Be True – The Story of Raymond Cyrus Hoiles and his Freedom Newspapers,” I found another theme that makes me feel a connection to him: a strong desire for consistency.

We can see Hoiles' desire for consistency in his positions throughout this piece authored by Carl. Hoiles was always willing to stand by his principles, one example being that his newspapers spoke out against internment of Japanese Americans during World War 2, quite an unpopular opinion at the time.

Certainly this adherence to principle has the strong potential to annoy advertisers on occasion and there are a few examples of this in the article. But Hoiles apparently didn’t care and held fast to his principles even when it cost him money. And yet, his Freedom Newspaper Chain succeeded and grew.

Carl goes into more detail about Hoiles’ belief that he was handicapped by attending government schools. Hoiles realized he was never taught to think with consistency about basic principles:

“Of course, I never found any textbook or any teacher that believed taxation was a violation of justice and of moral law, as set forth in the Commandments "Thou shalt not steal" and "Thou shalt not covet." In other words, the government schools I attended made no attempt to be consistent and teach me to recognize contradictions.”

It appears that Hoiles spent the rest of his life working towards consistency and clarity in his thinking.

He believed that the purpose of the editorial page of his newspapers was to get people to think and all those on the editorial staff (which included Robert Lefevre) were constantly working and thinking about the freedom philosophy and how those principles defined the editorial stance of the papers.

I have always been drawn to consistency in thought. One thing that bothers me most is hypocrisy and I’m always bothered when I see it in myself most of all. My family tells me that sometimes I just think too much and analyze things too much when they hear me express concern about my own inconsistencies or about the inconsistencies in the world at large and maybe I do.

I wonder if R. C. Hoiles heard that a time or two in his life as well. If so, I am guessing he’d respond just as I do: I just can’t help it. I crave consistency.


Kent McManigal said...

Consistency is unpopular in a world where you are expected to go along with the beliefs of the crowd in the moment. So what? I'd rather be right than popular. (Usually. How inconsistent of me!)

MamaLiberty said...

I strive for consistency in my critical thinking and philosophy, but relish the randomness and unpredictability in many other things such as cooking or the weather.

Guess I'm just not very consistent. :)

Debbie H. said...

Well Mama, if you consistently relish the randomness of cooking and weather, then sounds like you are indeed consistent. ;)

Scott said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. I think it's to your credit that you're thinking about principles, which is more than most people seem to do most of the time.

Some people criticize consistency, especially in politics, as if being inconsistent and unprincipled is somehow an admirable quality that qualifies a person for public office and adoration.

More than once, I have read the quote, "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." But, as you probably know, the actual quote, from Ralph Waldo Emerson, is, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." With emphasis on the word "foolish," which completely changes the meaning. A wise consistency is something to be strived for and admired!

Debbie H. said...

Thanks Scott. :) I don't think I've run into that consistency quote before so I'm glad you shared the full sentence. Now I'll be prepared if anyone tries to use it.

Scott said...

I try to be consistent, too, so, whenever I heard or read that quote (not knowing at the time that it was actually a misquote) I was a bit offended. Of course, even if there did happen to be a quote from some famous person saying that consistency, especially in regard to one's principles, was somehow bad or undesirable, that wouldn't mean that the person was correct about that!

I usually heard the misquote used against libertarians by non-libertarians, especially libertarians running for office.

I have always thought that a philosophy needs to be internally consistent to be taken seriously. A philosophy that can be applied consistently implies to me that it is also more likely to be right.

If one's philosophy starts with the difficult to refute notion that everyone owns his or her own life and body and builds consistently and logically from that premise, it seems to me that the burden is on the people who would disagree or knowingly make exceptions to the logic to explain themselves, not on those of us who try our best to be consistent with our beliefs and behavior.

Scott said...

By the way, I'm not sure that the people who use the misquote realize that it is a misquote.

Since it is usually not attributed to anyone, I suspect that many of the people who use that misquote have heard it wrong so many times, that they simply assume that they are using the correct quote. I still have to wonder how they can think that it could be true, though!