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Twistin' with Tristan: 'Tolerance' edition

by Jeremy Hooper

 Images Emmanuel07Uber-conservative columnist Tristan Emmanuel (pic.) has penned a commentary for WorldNetDaily, wherein he takes the annoyingly flawed position that liberals both hide behind and have changed the meaning of the word "tolerance." After comparing the word to a swearword and liberals to "foul"-mouthed rappers, Emanuel sets up this idea (the basic argument for his whole piece):

In [liberals'] world, tolerance is used to justify virtually every kind of degenerate behavior you can imagine, the kind of behavior four-letter words customarily describe.

If a man wants to "marry" another man, tolerate it!

If a woman wants to "abort" an inconvenient pregnancy, tolerate it!

If homosexual activists want "access" to kids at our schools, tolerate it!

Okay, so first off, it's just ridiculous that two of the three points made by Emmanuel involve gay issues. But disregarding the social conservatives' obsession with gay sex for a second: What the hell is wrong with asking people to tolerate concepts that realistically exist in society? The word "tolerate" is not synonymous with "celebrate" or even "accept," as Emanuel asserts in his piece, but rather it conveys the idea that since we all come from varying faiths, political outlooks, belief systems, and ideologies, we must learn to live together with some semblance of understanding. It is the belief that none of us have the right to foist our personal faith views on governance, as this nation is comprised of more than just those who define abortion as "murder" and homosexuality as "death"!

So then, after getting into a clumsy and all-too-convenient examination of the word's etymology, Emmanuel goes on to say this:

We are told: "Words are what you want them to mean." And tolerance doesn't mean "to discreetly accept with conditions." No, for liberals it means you either endorse their point of view or shut up.

Nothing demonstrates this more than when a conservative engages the public square on the current social acceptance and promotion of homosexuality. Just try to express an opposing view on the normalization of homosexuality, one that reflects the natural order, human history and a historic Christian perspective, and you'll quickly discover just how "tolerant" postmodern liberals really are.

You should just read some of the "tolerant" letters I receive on a regular basis. They are concrete evidence that civility and polite discourse are real priorities for these people.

Well, before saying anything else, let's nip this "we conservatives get angry letters" thing in the bud right now. The social conservatives love to work the idea that behind the scenes of their operations, their Inboxes are just teeming with angry missives from gay activists. We would never deny that they do get angry letters. After all, people do not like to be demonized and condemned in the brutal, judgmental ways of which their team is so fond. However, anyone who has ever worked in gay activism knows that those who fight for gay rights get more than their share of anti-gay hate mail. In the 3+ years that G-A-Y has been in existence, we have received every sort of condemnation that one can imagine. And what's different about the mail that is directed towards our side is that it is not in reaction to anything we said or did other than requesting for our lives and loves to be accepted as part of the spectrum of normalcy. It is hate mail, plain and simple, whereas pro-gay reaction to gay condemnation is a response to what is often and unwarranted, discriminatory attack. That's not to justify either side, as we personally think such anger is counterproductive. However, there is a big difference in throwing an unsolicited stone and yelling back "F**K YOU!" to the person who chucked it!

That all being said, what the hell is this idea that anti-gay Christians are not being tolerated by pro-gays simply because we choose to challenge, refute, or respond to their rhetoric? By writing this response, we are 100% accepting Mr. Emmanuel's right to speak out, but with conditions. That condition: We also get the chance to say our piece and tell folks why we feel it is reprehensible, amoral, mean-spirited, and yes, intolerant, to paint homosexuality as abnormal! What it seems folks like Mr. Emmanuel truly want is a world where we, at best, can come to a stalemate and put things like gay rights on hold so that we can just all "agree to disagree" (as to not offend evangelicals' faith views). However, when we are talking about words and actions that truly damage people and harm the ability for us all to live in peace, allowing every viewpoint to hold equal weight in terms of governance is simply unacceptable. Certain ideas are morse deserving of societal embrace! We are not willing to stay unmarried, discriminated against, and even physically threatened in order to appease the stone-casters among us. We will tolerate their right to say whatever the hell they want and to believe whatever the hell they want. But we will not let that stop us from fighting for what the hell we want: To stop having to fight for basic humanity!

These semantics debates really seem more like a distraction than anything else, with the social conservatives trying to make liberals look disingenuous when they seek fairness and peace. But the thing is, Mr. Emmanuel's entire argument is based on a false premise. He makes it sound like "tolerance" is a code word, sort of like "pro-family," "traditional marriage," "pro-life," and the so many others that the right utilizes. However, that is not the case at all. You can use any word you like, and the argument remains the same: Respect all viewpoints and people, yet challenge the problems you perceive in the world. The irony of all this is that gay activists are actually among the most ardent free speech and religious freedom advocates in the nation! When the House was debating whether or not they could limit Fred Phelps' right to protest at soldier funerals, Barney Frank was one of the only voices of dissension. And that is not an anomaly -- gay activists, through their own political fights, seem to understand how important these freedoms are. And this respect for freedom is why we will not and should not "tolerate" others' personal faith beliefs being used to persecute us into second-class submission! Mr. Emmanuel may consider that or any of our views "intolerant." But then again, he also views his political team as the "polite" and "civil" ones, so we're clearly going to have to agree to disagree on much.

The liberal swearword of choice: 'Tolerance' [WND]

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Your thoughts

"Just try to express an opposing view on the normalization of homosexuality, one that reflects the natural order, human history and a historic Christian perspective, and you'll quickly discover just how "tolerant" postmodern liberals really are."

Mr. Emmanuel seems to have forgotten that :

1. Christianity is not the only religion practiced in this country
2. Not all Christians agree with him
3. Citizens of this country are not required to subscribe to Christianity nor are they required to judge issues based on a historic Christian perspective

I have no trouble tolerating his viewpoints and his right to express them. I have plenty of trouble tolerating his attempts to use his faith to write the laws that govern me.

Posted by: | Aug 2, 2007 1:35:39 PM

If Christ walked the earth today, fundamentalists like Emmanuel would condemn him as a liberal, and possibly as a gay man.

These rightwing "Christians" have much less to do with the New Testament (tolerance, love, humility, kindness, forgiveness) than they have with the Old Testament (punishment, retribution, judgment, smiting).

I don't know why they don't just come out and admit they follow Leviticus, not Christ.

Posted by: Darby | Aug 4, 2007 7:13:19 PM

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