Thursday, August 22, 2013


"He doesn't seem to realize tolerance is a two-way street."

Imagine, for a moment an absurd situation.  I know this story sounds ridiculous, but bear with me, as it is to help illustrate a point which increasingly people seem to not understand.
Imagine you live in a society where slavery over the last twenty-five years or so has become increasingly mainstreamed and normalized.  A culture where slavery isn't just shrugged at, but is depicted in popular media as beneficial, proper, and good.  Imagine you are someone who believes this to be wrong, that slavery is not just a bad idea, but morally evil.  Imagine that you understand slavery to be a sin against an absolute, objective standard of behavior.
Now imagine further that your stance against slavery becomes not just ridiculed or disagreed with, but attacked, that you are considered a horrible person for holding this position.  You're called intolerant, hateful, bigoted, and wrong for disagreeing with slave owners and calling for the practice of slavery to end.
Imagine that people respond so strongly and society is so dominated by this viewpoint that almost everyone under the age of 30 thinks you're horrible and hateful for holding this position, so much so that you hesitate to even mention it in public.
Sound crazy?  Orson Scott Card has found himself in this sort of position.  A brilliant and once-admired science fiction writer, Card is the author of Ender's Game, a fascinating story examining hard moral choices and the essence of warfare and what it takes to be a warrior.  Its a psychological drama with an interesting twist that people have long thought the work of genius.
Then Orson Scott Card indicated that he though homosexuality is not a good thing and that society should stop endorsing it.  Suddenly, overnight, he went from beloved writer to hateful pariah and people keep vowing to never watch the film.  Cracked Magazine put out an article recently about Card in their usual crude style:
The sci-fi master behind Ender’s Game thinks the gays and their marriages are destroying the fabric of society. But they should still go see his movie - in the name of tolerance.
See, Orson Scott Card is calling for people to tolerate his ideas on the topic of homosexual "marriage" and he's attacked by people who think he should tolerate the behavior of homosexuality.  This is a pretty typical flaw with modern comprehension of tolerance.  Orson Scott Card likely has no problem with people thinking homosexual marriage is a fine thing, he has a problem with the carrying out of this idea.
This is true tolerance: you put up with people who believe things you disagree with.  Today's false tolerance is partly a belief that you cannot question certain activities, and partly that you have to adhere to a certain set of approved concepts and beliefs or are hateful.  Tolerance has been destroyed by a systematic effort to redefine the term from something essentially beneficial to society to a tyranny of ideas.
Don't care for Card's thoughts on the matter, don't want to see the film?  Fine.  Just don't pretend its in the name of tolerance.  Card is right: if you are someone who calls for tolerance and multiculturalism, then his ideas about this should not even factor into your decision to watch the film.
The problem is, the entire debate on homosexuality has been so expertly and successfully twisted from a moral one to a political one that the idea that someone might be principled in their opposition is inconceivable.  No one even seems to stop to ask the question whether this is right objectively, only whether its nice or emotionally comfortable. That was the point of the slavery exercise at the beginning, to try to help reboot people's thinking on this topic.
Because the entire debate was reduced to slogans, emotionalism, and cries of hate.  Which, as I've written many times before is a perfect template for damn near everything.  You can get almost anything to be mainstreamed by this system, no matter how horrific or ghastly it might presently be.  It wasn't that long ago that homosexuality was seen as mental illness by the psychiatric community.  After all, it is awfully bizarre in terms of human sexuality and biology.
Not that long ago it was perfectly normal for people to go "eww" when they viewed homosexual activity, and state it openly and without any shame.  Today, if you do so, you're attacked as homophobic and hateful.  Most people still feel that way, they're just being trained to keep silent about it.
What other presently insane or disgusting behaviors are next on the docket?  I expect you know, even if its something you don't care to think about.
*Shorter version: tolerance is toward ideas, and if you claim to be tolerant, you can't pick and choose.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I was growing up, abortion was considered morally offensive and despicable by society at large. The idea that it would ever be legal did not seem even remotely possible. Who could fathom such a barbaric practice in a civilized society? And yet we now live in an age where those who merely hold pro-life sentiments are literally vilified at every turn. Such absurdity!