At the end of Sydney’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas was Q&A, and at the end of Q&A was a cracker of a question.

“Which so-called dangerous idea do you each think would have the greatest potential to change the world for the better if it were implemented?” asked Lisa Malouf from the biggest ever audience for the ABC program.

It was a tough finish for an entertaining panel – Germaine Greer, Peter Hitchens, Hanna Rosin, and Dan Savage – and a provocative end to a robust discussion.

dan-savageDan Savage, US author and blogger, went first: “Oh my God. Uh, population control. There are too many goddamn people on the planet. You know I’m pro-choice, I believe that women have the right to control their bodies, but in my darker moments I’m anti-choice – I believe abortion should be mandatory for about 30 years.”

“That’s a dangerous idea… she wanted a dangerous idea. So throw a chair at me.”

US author Hanna Rosin needed a minute to consider the curly question, so host Tony Jones went to Germaine Greer.

germaine-greer-headshot“Well, I’m always in the same place. The most dangerous idea that terrifies us the most, is freedom, to actually be free is for most human beings, disorienting, terrifying, but it’s the essential bottom line if you want to be a moral individual.

“We must be free to make choices, and that includes making mistakes.”

Conservative UK commentator Peter Hitchens was next: “The most dangerous idea and philosophy in human history remains the belief that Jesus Christ was the son of God and rose from the dead, and that is the most dangerous idea you will ever encounter.”

peter-hitchens2Why dangerous?

“Because it alters the whole of human behaviour and all of our responsibilities, it turns the Universe from meaningless chaos into a designed place where there is justice, where there is hope and therefore we all have a duty to discover the nature of that justice and work towards that hope. It alters us all. If you reject it, it alters us all as well, it is incredibly dangerous, that’s why so many people turn against it.”

And Hanna Rosin, being “the Jewish one on the panel” was tempted to respond to Hitchens, but let it go.


Instead she had this: “… We should watch our children less. We live in a culture that follows our children around, that is obsessed with safety, decides everything for our children, doesn’t let them have any freedom, doesn’t let them wander, doesn’t let them go anywhere and do anything by themselves, and we should in fact do less with our children, not more.”

Of course this got us thinking about dangerous ideas – what about you? What dangerous idea do you think could change the world for the better?

Think big, Hooplarians, and think dangerous…




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