Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Death of Tolerance

"It's just my opinion, you need to respect my right to my own opinion," he said. We were having a conversation about Billy Graham and his death. I had put something up on my Facebook page and have since been embroiled in the real world with discussions that began with upset at what I was saying. I had said, and this is really lazy, it's early, I'm still not fully awake, and I don't feel like flipping over to get the exact quote, something about wanting people to understand my reaction to Graham's death in the context of my life. Then, I quoted Graham: All homosexuals should be castrated.

Later someone pointed me to an article that stated that it is 'unproven' that he made that statement. Bad on me, I should have done a double check. However, I then read about his statement "AIDS is God's punishment on gay people." Well, swapping castration for death, as it was conceived at the time, isn't a step up. He did later apologize for that, not because of offending gay people but for representing God as acting in that kind of manner. There are others, many other comments made by Graham that shows his homophobic way of thinking, so, even though I posted an unproven quote, the sentiment behind it is true.

Back to the discussion of opinions and my need to respect your opinion and your need to respect mine. This is a fine idea but, in many cases, it's not possible. Because, of course, not all opinions are equal.

Equal

Coke Zero is the best diet cola, in my opinion.
No, I like Diet Pepsi.

These two opinions are equal no one is hurt by either one, it's a disagreement, even a FUN argument to have. I love those kinds of debates because it involves developing a clever argument and verbal sparing with another.

Unequal

Gay marriages are just 'parody marriages' and not comparable to the beauty of a marriage between a man and a woman.

I am married to another man and I believe my relationship is equal to yours.

By the way I used 'parody marriages' because the GOP in the United States of America in some state or another, they have so many of them, is calling all LGBT marriage 'parodies'.

But this is an unequal opinion. Why, because holding one can cause hurt to the other. For example, my opinion does not hurt you, does not threaten you, does not declare you a lesser being. The other statement does. It's an opinion, yes, but it's also an attack.

You expect me to respect your opinion that I am less.

You expect me to honour your right to an opinion that is marching towards my undoing.

And you resent my anger and passion and tell me that it's "Just my opinion." Well, as I said to one of the many who I disputed with over the last day or so, "It was also my opinion that you were my friend and that you respected me. I guess I held an opinion proved wrong." Then it got really nasty. Endings often are.

I do respect the opinion of others.

But I demand that others allow me the right to change my opinion about them and our relationship and about what happens next.

I was asked "Where is that tolerance you always speak about?" I didn't react by saying that I never talk about tolerance, I don't want tolerance I want equality.

"In this case," I said, ending the conversation, "it died."

6 comments:

CapriUni said...

Shortly after Trump's presidential inauguration, someone found and took a photo of one of those big lit signs on the side of a building (the kind where you can snap letters in and out to change the message) that had a quote from Robert Jones:

"We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist."

Just about says it all.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

I actually think your marriage is better than mine (as is an interracial marriage, or one between an Arab and an Israeli), because you have had to fight so much harder for it. Mine was easy - yours required a great deal of not saying what you thought, of being afraid for yourself and for Joe, and everything else you know.

Your marriage is based on equality.

The only marriages I think should be banned are those that are abusive to one of the spouses (such as marrying more than one wife, or 'marrying' a girl who won't then even finish her education). You can tell me all you want that polygamy is a good idea - but the women in it are not in a position to give consent, so it isn't.

clairesmum said...

Thoughtful well reasoned post.
And a perspective that I had not really considered. My thinking tends to be more on the legal/ethical/moral lines.In the US the Constitution provides for equality of every individual - equal worth.
The prohibition against official religion - civil marriage is a legal contract entered into for many reasons by many individuals who do not believe in God..or any other deity. The psychosocial/emotional/spiritual meanings and benefits of any marriage are created by the 2 persons as they create their own marital relationship. What is in my marriage is not really anyone's else's business, as long as there is not abuse. (CapriUni's quote from Robert Jones is perfect..."..in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.")
Discourse about the quality of my marriage and judging if my marriage is 'good/bad' or 'better than/less than' is not anybody's business. If I am having a conversation with someone whom I consider a friend and I receive 'feedback meant to be helpful' that is actually value judgement and shaming, then that is the end of that relationship. Trust can be killed that quickly.

It's hard to lose a friend.



Shan said...

Opinion and informed opinion are very different things. When Graham died I recalled the very little I personally knew about him---really a very few snippets of nice bits of his sermons, calls to repentance from unnmamed sin---so I thought I should read up. And of course, inevitably, after some more reading and investigating, more varied anecdotes and facts emerged and I *decided what my opinion of his actions should be*. I had refrained from comment because it wouldn't have been a true opinion (ie informed), but just an impression based on very limited experience. And I'm glad---my opinion was only relevant after I had found out a few more facts.

Unfortunately our culture rewards shallow and badly informed opinions with airtime. But it's all okay and equally relevant, because it's your opinion!

Not long ago in the wake of #metoo, Oprah told the world, Speak Your Truth. I cringed when I heard her say that...speak THE truth --- now that, I can get behind.

Rachel S said...

Respecting somebody's right to their opinion is very very different from respecting said opinion.

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