Tolerance and respect
aebrownstein at UCDAVIS.EDU
Tue Feb 17 10:40:57 PST 1998
I think a line between personal attitudes and legal standards may have
crossed in Jim Maule's comment on Michael Mcconnell's recent post.
>> Indeed, maybe we all are, at some
>> level (myself certainly included), since there is something
>> deeply paradoxical about tolerating and respecting even
>> views that do not tolerate and respect others.
>Very true, but that is why the American Nazi Party was permitted and
>ought to have been permitted to march in Skokie. There's something
>deeply courageous, wise, and divine about tolerating a bigot. Most
>great persons of religious impact did so. They were not afraid.
I don't tolerate and respect people who want to murder my family because
we are Jews. The Constitution may prohibit government from restricting the
speech of the American Nazi Party, but the reasons why it does so are
complicated and do not require any attitude by the community or the
government regarding the moral value of speech or speakers.
I do tolerate and respect many people who express views I strongly
disagree with. But that is a pretty complicated decision too and it
certainly has narrower limits than the First Amendment.
I think Michael is clearly right that religious liberty in a
constitutional sense requires that people must be free to reject
multicultural pluralism. Whether religious liberty in a non-constitutional
sense (or other values such as racial and gender equality) are enhanced
when people are free to reject multicultural pluralism and to practice
those beliefs in public life is a more difficult issue, at least for me. I
doubt it can be resolved in general terms and requires the evaluation of
specific circumstances. For example, I believe that most laws prohibiting
race, gender, and religious discrimination in public life in most
circumstances enhance liberty and equality although they may limit the
choices of some people who reject racial and religious pluralism.
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