LETTER: ‘What hateful behavior is’

To the editor:

I write this letter regarding the recent events surrounding Grace Community Church. All around the country, we see incidents of people getting angry with others because they disagree. There’s no reason to expect Marblehead, being full of humans, to be exempt from common behaviors. But we have been mostly free from public angriness in response to private disagreements.

But now, simply because Grace Community Church chose not to allow someone to use their property as a platform without permission, they were bullied and shamed. They were lectured, in a public forum, on what their beliefs are supposed to be.

The protest in question — and all the statements made to the press by the participants — are protected by the Constitution. That doesn’t make them reasonable, or good civic behavior.

If we really want to fight against hateful behavior, we need to be clear about what hateful behavior is. Removing a flag placed on your property without permission is not a hateful act. Declining to participate in a particular movement or celebration is not a hateful act.

It is not helpful or accurate to use labels like “hate” or make broad accusations, equating anyone who differs from our views with people who actively try to harm people. We cannot truly have freedom of association, assembly or speech if we’re going to bully people who choose not to associate, assemble or speak the way we want them to.

Tom Kenney

Elm Place

Letter to the editor
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