SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

February 19, 2014

Letter: 2012 Libertarian candidate backs Tisei in 2014

To the editor:

I’m supporting Richard Tisei for Congress in 2014.

Richard has said that it’s easier to be gay in Massachusetts than it is to be a Republican. That’s not a happy jest; it’s a sad truth. If you live in Massachusetts, you’ve heard hate speech directed toward Republicans. And that shouldn’t be OK. When people have differing views, we should embrace those new ideas and honestly evaluate them. This is how politics should work.

Liberty has always been my focus, but I have recently come to realize that my liberty only exists at the tolerance of others. Our Constitution, with good reason, is designed to protect us from a tyranny of the majority. In a democracy, however, a large enough majority can take rights away from a minority at the ballot box. Only the truly tolerant prevent a whimsical prohibition based on the will of the current majority. Our democracy cannot be two wolves and a sheep voting on who is for dinner.

Thus, for me to champion liberty, I must make everyone understand that there is no liberty without tolerance.

Over the course of our campaigning, Richard welcomed conversation about issues. When we agreed on issues (frequently), Richard was not threatened by our overlap. He felt no need to paint me as an extremist. Instead, he tolerated me for who I am, and my political ideas for the merits that they had.

And that was when I began to realize the hypocrisy of conversations about tolerance in Massachusetts. Many Bay Staters point to their approval of marriage equality as an indication of them being tolerant. In reality, though, accepting the norm is not tolerance. The overwhelming majority in Massachusetts approves of marriage equality. What happens, though, when you ask “tolerant” people how they feel about something they don’t approve of? We used to pride ourselves as a nation on tolerance. When it came to First Amendment issues, Americans love the phrase “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

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