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Academic Bravery

In: English and Literature

Submitted By cosmichrist
Words 1804
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Thinking for Themselves – Anthony D’Amelio Q8

The intellectual virtue of bravery can be defined as having the ability to think for yourself and not conform to the herd’s average way of thinking. This bravery allows a person to confront ideas and beliefs that are considered to be taboo or dangerous. Having intellectual bravery enables us to determine things for ourselves, and not just accept what we have been told.
The consequences for straying beyond society’s accepted viewpoints and beliefs can be very severe. Professor Timothy Leary is a person who in the 1960’s displayed intellectual bravery while telling the rest of the world to “think for yourself, and question authority”(How to Operate Your
Brain). President Nixon even called him “the most dangerous man in America”. Timothy Leary is largely famous for his sacramental use of LSD. However, Leary would first conduct experiments at Harvard University[->0] under the Harvard Psilocybin Project[->1] before being fired because of the controversy surrounding his research. Despite the negative reaction by mainstream America, Leary continued to pursue his research and experimentation with psycho- active compounds, writing several books including Exo-Psychology in 1977. Leary says
“Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities, the political, the religious, the educational authorities who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing, forming in our minds their view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable, open- mindedness; chaotic, confused, vulnerability to inform yourself” (How to Operate Your Brain).
Famous for his mantra “tune in, turn on, and drop out”, Leary would become an icon for the counter-culture in America. Bill Maher is another person who displays intellectual bravery. Maher is a comedian who

was fired from the television network Comedy Central for stating his opinion against the Iraq war on the live television show “Politically Incorrect”. It took intellectual bravery to stand up against the war at a time when it was seemingly believed to be necessary by most people.
Despite the setback of being fired from Comedy Central, Maher was hired by HBO to do the same type of show under a new title. In his documentary “Religulous” Maher challenges organized religion and Christianity in particular, saying “The irony of religion is that because of its power to divert man to destructive courses[->2], the world could actually come to an end. The plain fact is religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having key decisions made by religious people, by irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do” (2008). Maher remains a controversial figure in the world of political comedy, voicing his critically formed opinions on a regular basis. Bill Maher engages people with different beliefs to challenge his logic, resulting in the debate of important issues and problems that need to be solved. Sometimes the issues he engages are issues with multiple viewpoints towards which others may have associated negative emotion. Ideas and concepts that many may find taboo are largely over looked and lack the critical analysis they deserve. Another person whom displays the intellectual virtue of bravery is Julian Assange. Assange is the founder of Wikileaks, The website published information and evidence like government corruption and murder in Kenya, and a secret company report on illegal toxic waste dumping. In the years after 911 the United States government started keeping more secrets from it’s citizens.
Assange and Wikileaks became best known in 2010 when they started to publish U.S. military

and diplomatic documents on their website. Assange believes that ALL information should be made available to the people of the world and that information should be free. Assange said
“WikiLeaks may become the most powerful intelligence agency on earth, an intelligence agency of the people” (We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks). Assange attempted to take on the
United States government, and now the United States Department of Justice may prosecute
Assange for several offenses including “communicating with the enemy”. When getting ready to publish the United States military and diplomatic documents on his website Wikileaks, Assange said “We’re going to fuck them all, crack the world open and let it flower into something new”
(We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks). Julian Assange is obsessed with cracking the secrets of governments and corporations enabling the public access to this information. Assange’s idea of Wikileaks was his attempt to destroy corruption. Assange says “If we are to produce a more civilized and just society it has to be based on the truth” (We Steal Secrets: The Story of
WikiLeaks). Though clouded with personal and legal controversy, Assange remains to be a symbol of intellectual bravery for millions of people who agree with his philosophy. Marilyn Manson, aka Brian Warner stands out as one person with a great amount of intellectual courage. Out of respect for the artist I will refer to him by his legal name of Marilyn
Manson. Manson is a musical recording artist or “rock star” who has pushed the bounds of intellectual bravery. A scholar himself, Manson studied journalism before coming up with the fantastical idea of “Marilyn Manson”. This concept combines the names Marilyn Monroe and
Charles Manson. The idea is to combine the polar opposites of male and female, good and evil, positive and negative, and so on. Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson were two of the most famous people in 1969, the year of Marilyn Manson’s birth. This year also holds symbolism for
Manson because of the numbers six and nine; this is a visual representation the yin yang.

Manson was raised Christian and he says “Gradually, I began to resent Christian school and doubt everything I was told. It became clear that the suffering they were praying to be released from was a suffering they had imposed on themselves—and now us. The beast they lived in fear of was really themselves: It was man, not some mythological demon that was going to destroy man in the end. And this beast had been created out of their fear” (25). Manson would have the intellectual bravery to challenge mainstream Christian America, breaking every taboo along the way . His most critically acclaimed and successful album “Anti-Christ Superstar” was a satirical concept album that told the story of Manson’s life as boy and transformation into the “anti-
Christ superstar.” Ignorant to the true message and deeper meaning of the lyrics, large segments of Christian America would feed right into Manson’s plan by protesting his concerts with picket signs only serving to make him more successful. I myself have experienced the protesting of a Marilyn Manson concert in 1996 , at the height of his success and controversy. Picket signs were filled with hateful messages like “God hates Fags”, and signs with drawings of Manson burning in hell. Other protesters where telling me I was being seduced and under the power of
Marilyn Manson’s music. They were handing out condoms and bible pamphlets as if we the fans were some kind of subhuman creatures, on our way to hell for eternity. In Manson’s autobiography he says “The seeds of who I am now had been planted. ”Fools aren't born," I wrote in my notebook one day during ethics class. "They are watered and grown like weeds by institutions such as Christianity."” (21). The lyrical content from “Ant-Christ
Superstar” is deeply personal, Manson says “I was born into this, everything turns to shit. The boy that you loved is the man that you fear, but someone had to go this far” (“Man that you fear”). He is speaking to his family and referring to himself as the “man that you fear”. In another song Manson says “Anti-choice and anti-girl, I am the anti-flag unfurled. Anti-gay and

anti-dope, I am the faggot anti-Pope. You poisoned all your children to hide all of your scars.
ANTI-PEOPLE NOW YOU’VE GONE TOO FAR, HERE’S YOUR ANTI-CHRIST
SUPERSTAR (“Anti-Christ Superstar”). In the beginning many people dismissed Manson as just another “shock rocker”, but twenty years later he is now a household name and largely respected as a true artist. He had the courage to think for himself and create an alter ego to help express his thoughts and ideas. Something that started as a fictional character in a notebook was made manifest into reality. Though Manson had no musical talent he managed to get a band together as a vehicle for his controversial opinions and ways of thinking. All the members in the band would have to take on pseudo names that began with the first names of famous female actresses, and the last names of famous male serial-killers. There was a reason for making this band so shocking. As Manson says in his autobiography “As a performer, I wanted to be the loudest, most persistent alarm clock I could be, because there didn’t seem like any other way to snap society out of its Christianity- and media-induced coma” (56). Worshipped, hated, and feared, Manson’s music has been the subject of countless boycotts, protests, and bans. His lyrics, music, and books reveal intellectual bravery that cannot be denied. This is man who stood up against the hypocrisy of Christianity, and America itself. A deeply intelligent man who has the courage to think for himself and force others to think as well: Marilyn Manson, the single most controversial rock star in musical history.

Work Cited

How to Operate Your Brain. Dir. Joey Cavella, Chris Graves. Perf. Timothy Leary. Retinalogic[->3], 1994. Film.

Religulous. Dir. Larry Charles. Perf. Bill Maher. Lions Gate Entertainment, 2008. Film.

We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks. Dir. Alex Gibney. Perf. Julian Assange, Adrian Lamo, Chelsea Manning[->4]. Jigsaw, Universal Pictures. 2013. Film.

Manson, Marilyn, and Strauss, Neil. The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell. New York. Plexus Publishing Ltd, 1998. Print.

Manson. Marilyn. “Man That You Fear.” Anti-Christ Superstar. Nothing and Interscope Records, 1996. CD.

Manson. Marilyn. “Anti-Christ Superstar.” Anti-Christ Superstar. Nothing and Interscope Records, 1996. CD.

[->0] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_University
[->1] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_Psilocybin_Project
[->2] - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0815241/quotes
[->3] - http://www.imdb.com/company/co0156222?ref_=tt_dt_co
[->4] - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4808915/?ref_=tt_ov_st…...

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