Archive for Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Free to tolerate

May 7, 2003


To the editor:

"Operation Iraqi Freedom." Is Iraqi freedom so important that young Americans should die for it? If we fight for freedom for others, will we fight for our own? And where do we fight for our freedom?

Freedom is a roof that protects us and is supported by a single fragile pillar: tolerance.

Who do we tolerate? And who is doing the tolerating? All of us, and again, all of us. Most of us are part of the majority on something. When we are in the majority, we tolerate by allowing others to believe differently. Even when we're offended we tolerate; even though we have the power to silence, we tolerate. But sometimes each of us is part of the minority. Then it's we who want tolerance, and tolerance requires restraint. We defend our freedom when we exercise restraint.

Why now talk about freedom, tolerance and restraint? Read Friday's Journal World. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., is offended by homosexuality; he thinks it should not be tolerated. State Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, is offended by the open academic study of human sexuality; she thinks it should not be tolerated. Some Lawrence residents, offended by cigarette smoke, want smoking banned in all Lawrence restaurants; they think cigarette smoking should not be tolerated. Each is seductive, each is an easy target, but each is an attack on tolerance, and each is a threat to freedom. If it's Iraqi freedom we fought for, let's not forget American freedom. We can call it "Operation American Freedom."

Bill Skepnek,


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