Against the Illiberals

by Michael Potemra

Over at RealClearPolitics, there is an excellent open letter from gay-marriage advocates defending the rights of people who dissent from that opinion. “Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why We Must Have Both” is a principled invocation of what Lincoln called the better angels:

The freedom — not just legal but social — to express even very unpopular views is the engine that propelled the gay-rights movement from its birth against almost hopeless odds two generations ago. A culture of free speech created the social space for us to criticize and demolish the arguments against gay marriage and LGBT equality. For us and our advocates to turn against that culture now would be a betrayal of the movement’s deepest and most humane values.

Among the notables who signed this document are Christina Hoff Sommers, Charles Murray (who is himself experiencing first hand the results of todays culture of monothought), Richard Epstein, Peter Thiel, Eli Lehrer, Andrew Sullivan, my old professor Norman Ornstein, Sally Satel, Cathy Young, and Jonathan Adler.

Liberty is not a self-enforcing or self-perpetuating principle; its seeds need to be sown anew in every generation, or it will wither into an ideology of “liberty to get what my tribe wants and then the hell with it.” The signers of this document ought to be really proud of what they have done: They have struck a blow against those who believe that “silence and punish” is the American way.

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