Tolerance is not a form of intolerance

The idea that tolerance is just another form of oppression and intolerance crops up a fair amount on the religious right.
The argument; Sure, liberals say they’re tolerant but not really. Anyone who doesn’t fit their PC positions——someone who points out that Muslims are all terrorist killers and gays are filthy perverts——will be crushed, silenced, shut down. If you reject the PC lie that all religions are entitled to equal rights, you’ll be criticized, condemned and the target of moral opprobrium.
I’m honestly not sure how much of this is sincere (though wrong) and how much just trying to convince moderates that they’re the injured party. I suspect there’s a mix of both.
But it’s bullshit. Gays are not kicking skinheads to death in the street. Churches are not being shut down for preaching against gay marriage. As I’ve noted before, Fred Phelps, the hatemonger other haters hate (or are at least heartily embarrassed by) has Supreme Court protection for his funeral protests.
Or consider the Dominionists, the hard-core theocratic wing of the religious right. They’re quite open about wanting to take away other people’s religious rights (or even their loves——some American theocrats are involved with promoting Uganda’s death-for-gays law), but the response from most lefties is that they shouldn’t be allowed to do so. Not that they shouldn’t preach or make their case, but that we can’t let them win (some discussion here at Slacktivist). As Bill Clinton put it after Oklahoma City, if others abuse their right to free speech, we still can’t take it away——instead, we have to fight them by using ours.
Nevertheless, the myth of oppression-by-tolerance continues. As noted here, anti-gay groups are actively promoting the idea they’re being martyred for their religious views. At the link, anti-gay activist Frank Turek claims that he had a steady gig contracting with Cisco for some sort of seminars, then they found out that he’d written some anti-gay marriage books and dropped him like a hot potato. His conclusion: Christians who oppose the evil of gay marriage won’t be able to work.
Turek paints a somewhat distorted picture of himself, omitting some of his virulently anti-gay statements (even if gay is genetic, so are alcoholism and pedophilia and nobody thinks those are good!). If he’s telling the truth about losing Cisco’s business over his stance, I’m of two minds.
On the one hand, the idea of someone losing work because of their religious beliefs, however loathsome, unsettles me. If this is stuff he was doing off the job, I don’t think it should matter.
On the other hand, Cisco has the right to contract with anyone it chooses, within the limits of nondiscrimination law (and I do not think objecting to his views on gays is the same as discriminating against Christian faith per se). If the company doesn’t have confidence Turek can work effectively with gay employees, that’s a valid concern (and I think not doing business with a contractor is a different thing from firing an employee)——but what if he’s capable of setting his views aside and seminarizing them effectively? Then again, should gay employees have to take seminars from someone who considers them interchangeable with drunks and child molesters? I haven’t heard Cisco’s take on this, so I don’t know the how and why of their decision.
Much as I loathe the views and distortions of the anti-gay right (Turek asserts that government has to endorse het marriage to ensure the human race carries on, ignoring that for centuries, most marriages had no government or church sanction at all), I don’t want to see them oppressed, shut down or silenced. We can fight their efforts to take over, speak truth to counter their bullshit, but they’re entitled to speak too.
It’s a risky approach: There’s no guarantee truth or freedom will win out.
But if we play it their way, we’ve already lost.


Filed under Politics

4 responses to “Tolerance is not a form of intolerance

  1. Pingback: Like water flowing up-hill « Fraser Sherman's Blog

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  4. Pingback: When the going gets tough, the tough get links | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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