Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Respect and tolerance

Mark Bertrand has been posting on this theme some lately and I really like what he says today about how we develop real tolerance.
Contact, not isolation, leads to tolerance. If our goal is to be a society that tolerates a variety of religious expressions, then we have to respect the free practice of other religions -- including their attempts to proselytize -- in the public square. That doesn't mean instituting a state religion. In fact, it's the only thing that can prevent such an institution. A vacuum is easy to fill, but occupied territory isn't.
It reminds me of what my media law professor said several years ago about free speech -- the fringes define what is acceptable for most of us. If we aren't willing to allow free expression for ideas we vehemently disagree with, or even find repugnant, we may find our own rights limited. In other words, what goes around, comes around, folks.


bluggier said...

Linda, I am reminded of the free speech issue every time Fred Phelps makes the news. Now the Kansas Legislature wants to limit his picketing at funerals.
While I am repulsed by Fred's tactics and message, I uphold his right to express his message by using tactics acceptable under our Constitution and law.
Those who would silence people such as Fred and family (even at funerals) don't understand the stakes that are involved. Now, someone will probably want to silence me since I stand for Fred's right to picket. Sigh.

lindaruth said...

I think the Phelps crew was one of the examples we talked about in class, and I was thinking of them yesterday, though I didn't name them. There's a slippery slope when we start restricting what can be said in the public sphere, as Mark's excellent post suggests.

The Curmudgeon's Rant said...

Mr. Bertrand said it so well...

But when you said - "what comes around, goes around", you said it better.