In describing the philosophy of the 18th century French writer Voltaire, English biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Actor Vince Vaughn lives by the same credo.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in late October, just days before the presidential election, the “Wedding Crashers” star spoke out about his brief encounter with President Donald Trump, a January conversation that led many on the left to argue the celebrity needed to be canceled.
Vaughn, like Voltaire, believes people should be able to coexist without always agreeing. He also thinks — like Voltaire — it’s critical to defend the rights of those with whom you disagree, particularly their rights to free speech.
“I was raised with the idea that you could have different likes and beliefs and you should respect and defend that in other people, not shout it down,” Vaughn told the Times. “The people you disagree with the most, you should stand up for their right to do that.”
Vaughn, who is libertarian and has only ever endorsed former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), said he’s met a lot of politicians “who I’ve always been cordial to,” including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
As far as his brief encounter with Trump, Vaughn described the Republican leader as “very personable,” adding they “didn’t get into policies.”
“I think people are more charged than ever about these things,” the entertainer said. “But I don’t think most people take that stuff as seriously as the small percentage that’s making noise about it.”
Earlier this week, Kind LLC founder Daniel Lubetzky, who emigrated the the U.S. from Mexico and whose father survived the Holocaust, said it is “essential” for Americans to embrace kindness if they want the country to continue to succeed.
“My father was in the concentration camp in Dachau,” he explained. “So having that background, I’m very, very sensitive to the polarization and division that can actually hurt our nation. I’ve never seen the divisions that I see now.”
He also encouraged people to have conversations with people who have differing opinions and perspectives on issues.
“It takes enormous amounts of strength to listen to the side that you disagree with and still respect them and assume positive intent,” he said. “I think in the last several years, we’ve lost that ability, and we need to regain that.”