Chomsky, most readily identified by most as a liberal intellectual associated with the ‘left’, gives an almost ‘out-of-character’ response to issues surrounding pornography, by taking a conservative viewpoint, identifying the women in the porn industry as victims. Discussion threads on left-wing political sites espouse such things as “I usually agree with Noam Chomsky, but on this issue [pornography], I completely disagree.”
What Chomsky demonstrates is the willingness of some public intellectuals to disagree with the camp they are most associated with. It recalls one of the many political points made by Chris Rock in his Never Scared Special (2004) that, while comedic, shows just how futile the dichotomies of ‘Liberal vs. Conservative’, ‘Left vs. Right’ really are when it comes to understanding important issues and how individuals think. As Rock points out,
I got some shit I’m conservative about,
I got some shit I’m liberal about…
Crime I’m conservative…
Prostitution I’m liberal!
The diversity of thought present in individuals that defy categorization is most evidently apparent, not just in some public intellectuals like Chomsky, but in the stories of real people we encounter. For instance, there is the story of Brian Pengelly, a self-described ”Gay, Evangelical Christian Youth Pastor, who is married to a Lesbian.” Pengelly did not interpret the Bible as a supportive text for the LGBT community, yet was honest about his orientation; he remarkably harmonized the two beliefs by marrying a lesbian whom he shared an attraction with.
The point is not whether you agree with Chomsky’s views on pornography or Pengelly’s views on homosexuality and Christianity (or even Rock’s views on prostitution), what is remarkable however, is how through their bold proclamations in their convictions, they defy being labeled altogether. By doing this, they force you to consider their views before making any prejudgments. The honesty they have about choosing what they believe about particular things, forces you to take them more seriously. More importantly it teaches you to reflect on what you believe and why, instead of simply reverting to a label.