Sunday, April 13, 2014

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Tolerance has had a bad stretch lately.  The new CEO of Mozilla, the makers of the Firefox Web browser, which I do not currently and will never again use, was forced out after ten days on the job when it was discovered that he had contributed to the campaign for the passage of California’s Propostion 8, which attempted to legally codify the definition of marriage in that state as between a man and a woman.

World Vision, a Christian charitable institution, recently changed its policy and declared that its branches were now free to hire the same-sex married if they desired, only to reverse itself a day or so later after a firestorm of criticism from Christian traditionalists.

WV’s second reversal caused the left to accuse conservative Christians in general and World Vision in particular of WANTING TO KILL EVERY SINGLE CHILD IN THE ENTIRE WORLD while simultaneously affording brain-dead, leftist drama queens like Rachel Held Evans the chance to publicly sob into their fainting couches.

And recently, Brandeis University, which used to be a pretty liberal college, caved in to pressure from Big Islam and withdrew its award of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman described by Big Islam as an “Islamophobe” and someone who has been a fierce critic of both Islamic religion and Islamic culture.  And with outstandingly good reason.

What’s going on here?  Are we seeing the rise of some sort of new radically-activist American Bolshevism?  Not at all, says Tom Krattenmaker.  It’s just that some of you people have absolutely no understanding of what tolerance really means:

Following revelations that recently appointed Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich had supported California’s anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8, he is out. And so is tolerance in this country — at least according to critics of the pressure campaign that led to Eich’s involuntary resignation, and other campaigns like it.

For those involved in the religion, culture and politics debates, the Mozilla episode has sparked new rounds of recriminations. With it has come the now-customary rhetorical question from conservatives: How do gay-rights liberals get away with calling themselves the “tolerance” people when they show such nasty intolerance toward anyone who disagrees with them?

How? Because they believe in tolerance — a good thing — and it only makes sense that they not tolerate actions and words that exclude gays or represent other forms of intolerance.

So if you’re intolerant of what you, and you alone, consider to be intolerance, you’re tolerant.  Right.  Almost immediately realizing how bonecrushingly stupid that assertion is, Krattenmaker proceeds to walk it back. 

A bit.

There is much to argue with here, but Tooley’s and Dreher’s perspectives are right in one respect. Sometimes liberals — and conservatives too, as Dreher admitted — take their principles to extremes and turn them into rigid ideologies and purity tests.

This can be downright counterproductive. At no time was that more apparent than when Toms shoes, which donates millions of free pairs to poor children, faced a boycott drive for having the temerity to consider a distribution partnership with Focus on the Family. Toms had broken the cardinal rule that states that thou shalt never cooperate with an evangelical group that actively opposes gay marriage. Never mind shoes for the needy kids.

See if the following sounds familiar.

From the viewpoint of this principled tolerance, it is utterly ridiculous to expect a shrug and “whatever” in the face of disrespect and bigotry against racial or sexual minorities. This tolerance can tolerate a lot — pretty much everything, in fact, except intolerance. But here’s my call to tolerance champions: Except in the direst situations, please confine the condemnations to actions, ideas and words, and resist the temptation to write off entire individuals, organizations and religious movements. Sometimes a little patience is in order too. Those with strong religious beliefs about marriage are not all going to change overnight.

If you’re scoring at home, the fundie term for that is “hate the sin but love the sinner.”  Krattenmaker’s not at all happy about having to borrow that concept in its entirety.

There’s a saying associated with evangelicals and homosexuality that goes, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” It’s highly debatable whether the coiners of that phrase live up to the “love” part, but there’s something in that notion that the tolerance brigade might well appropriate and apply the next time word seeps out about a CEO or anyone else in the spotlight who opposed, or still opposes, gay marriage:

Intolerance for the offending act, and tolerance for the person.

But Tom knows that it’s the only way that he can make his ridiculous “argument” work.

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