Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Silence - The Cruelty of Tolerance

I’ve never met Brendan Eich. I really don’t know much about him, except that he is now without a job. I'd assume, since he was formerly a CEO, that he’s not living on the street. But it may not be long, given that the marketplace is now hostile to those who disagree with American cultural mores. A question. Where, exactly, is it okay for Mr. Eich to be employed? The local 7/11? A small private business never visited by the self-proclaimed tolerance police?
Let me start off by quoting this excellent piece over at Kevin DeYoung's blog, speaking about society's acceptance of same-sex relationships:
The problem is that our ascendant moral logic amounts to an imposition: affirm me or else. It used to be that tolerance meant granting to your intellectual, political, or religious opponents the right to be wrong (as you see the wrong). Now tolerance means the freedom, if not the obligation, to utterly shame those you deem intolerant. Ours is a supremely moralistic age. I would call it puritanical, except I don’t want to insult the Puritans.... 
There is no conversation any longer, just condescension. No acceptance of diverse viewpoints, just personal obliteration for anyone who dares to question Oceania’s Ministry of Truth. The talking heads and the purveyor’s of cultural correctness don’t feel the need to make arguments anymore. They don’t feel the need to listen either. After all, who can refute a sneer? 
No need to prove your dogma when stigma will do.

This was posted before Brendan Eich’s firing. It was also before all the outrage over what gay activist/Star Trek guy George Takei called “the new segregation” in Arizona. Let’s recall that latter situation for a moment. The state of Arizona had passed a bill which allowed business owners, when sued for refusing service to gays, to plead that it was a violation of their religious principles. It only took days after the passing of the bill for public opinion to persuade the governor to veto it. What few noted was that the bill itself didn't mention same-sex couples, same-sex marriage, same-sex anything.
This entire fiasco lacked nuance. The furor proscribed balanced discussion. Conversation (such as it was) went like this:

Legislators: This is actually a complex law, which doesn't say what you think it does...

Nobody wants to be a racist, and that's that. Now let me flagrantly break Godwin's Law and put forth a hypothetical. What if a Jewish baker saw three neo-Nazis walk into his shop, loudly using anti-Semitic slurs? Would he be justified in refusing to serve them? What if a member of the Westboro Baptist “Church” walked into a shop owned by a gay man and asked for service? I don’t think I’d blame him if he sent them off with a flea in their ear. What if, for instance, a hairdresser refused to serve a governor who opposed gay marriage?

There are more complex situations, yes. What if a customer was being unfairly treated? The bill did not keep him from successfully suing the owner. All the bill did was allow the owner to plead religious reasons for turning someone away. Either way, that's not really the point. The point is, this was not legal process. It was intolerance in the name of tolerance. It involved blackmail, in public, and without a peep from official authorities. The NFL threatened to move the Super Bowl, an enormous asset, from the state, if the governor did not veto the bill. Needless to say, she caved.

We often complain about the privileges of the rich, but when the NFL, a society of million- if not billionaires, bullies a state government into altering the law? Oh, well, this time we agree with the bully, so it’s okay. You want to see bravery? Ever heard of Malcolm Muggeridge? He stood up and proclaimed the sins of the Soviet Union when no one else would. Read conservative Tammy Bruce and liberal Andrew Sullivan, two gay commentators, who cast aside personal gain to stand up for the rights of those they do not agree with.

Don't get me wrong. The other side is hardly innocent, and I'm not just writing this because I don't approve of gay marriage (and I don't). This truth cuts both ways. Recently, Christians have been up in arms because an atheist adapted a biblical story in a manner that doesn't show Noah, the evangelical audience's stand-in, in a good light. Nobody likes it when the joke is on them. But if there's anything humanity is, it's a joke. We're all messed up and broken and say foolish things. That applies to both Brendan Eich and George Takei. And if we think the solution is to clamor for punishment and censorship and people to get fired, we're all deluded. An eye for an eye, you homophobe. It's God's judgment, you homosexual.

Let him without sin.

There is no bravery in toeing the line. There is no courage in agreeing with the majority. And there is no integrity in forcing others to do so. We are become a nation of snobs, seeing ourselves as the highest ideal of humanity, and molding the world to fit what we see in the mirror. What is even more despicable is that we add hypocrisy to our list of offences by claiming our end goal is “diversity.”

Be brave.

Be gracious.

Be tolerant.


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