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Tolerance, Disparagement and Other Fables

May 6, 2012

I am a right-leaning independent with a smattering of Libertarianism.  It’s none of my business what people do as long as they don’t harm others or break the law.

Still, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that we should all live in tolerance of each other without disparaging anyone.  Okay.  Sounds good.  To “disparage” is to speak ill of someone, call them names, treat them with disrespect, etc.  I prefer to be polite whenever possible.

Then someone said any judgment of someone’s views, to place less or more value upon a given life view, no matter how polite, is also disparagement.   Poppycock.

There are life choices that are flat-out stupid.  There are sub-cultures that are harmful to society.  People regularly invite things and behaviors into their lives that are disastrous to life.

The Bible says, “iron sharpens iron.”  That is, human discourse, disagreement, contention, speaking into one another’s lives, is a good and healthy behavior.  Preferably politely, but actively, nonetheless.

Take the not-so-Reverend Phelps.  He and his congregation are idiots who should be reminded of that with every contact.

The First Amendment was designed so people could speak ill of Obama… I mean the government, without reprisal.  I can call them incompetent boobs without fear of prison or torture (for awhile longer, anyway).  What an amazing right!  And it spills over into private life (though you may get smacked).  Kelly and I can contend with each other and still be friends and I’m better for the input.

The other day when a co-worker was espousing how stupid drug users were and I pointed out that was an odd sentiment coming from a smoker.  Discussion ensued.

25 years ago, a co-worker was outspokenly gay and president of the company’s gay association.  I asked him if that wasn’t a dangerous lifestyle.  That’s all, no judgment, just a politely asked question.  He came unglued and called me a bigot.  He then spun off several statistics saying how blown-out-of-proportion that issue was.  It was no more unsafe than my life (I was celibate at the time, but didn’t think it was worth refuting).  A month later he was diagnosed with HIV and went to full-blown AIDS faster than anyone I’d ever known.  He died a year later.  There are times when being right feels really awful.  I’ve had an inordinate number of friends die from this disease, many of them were straight.   I’ve had more friends die of overdose and a few from violence brought on by temper.

This idea that we should blithely ignore when a friend or family member’s behavior is harmful because we don’t want to “disparage” them is ridiculous and believe me, when it’s too late say something you’ll hate yourself.

Of course, a relationship must be established and it must be real.  A young fellow I know lives a life of desperate immaturity, admitting to illegal activities on Facebook, exulting in reckless and dangerous behavior.  I’m on the other side of the country and have no voice in his life other than carefully chosen words on Facebook.  Fortunately, I can pray for him, which is even more powerful than speaking to him (though God often says we’re to speak out anyway).

It takes guts to speak up; having been on the receiving end often enough, it takes guts to listen, too.  Don’t let our society’s “freedom from speech” keep you from helping a brother or sister.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. kverdeck permalink
    May 9, 2012 12:06 pm

    I wasn’t really going to weigh in on this one, since by and large I agree with you that our culture of increasing political correctness has led to tolerance of some traits that really deserve to be disparaged. I think we disagree on what some of those traits are, but it didn’t seem worth bringing up.

    Until, that is, yesterday’s election results in North Carolina, where Amendment 1 passed, making NC the 31st state of the Union to enshrine in its state Constitution an explicit denial of the rights of a significant portion of their population, based on nothing more than bigotry, ignorance, and, yes, good ol’ politically-incorrect intolerance. In 1875 North Carolina modified their Constitution to “forever prohibit” marriage between whites and negroes. Over 130 years later, and they’ve done the exact same thing, just with a slightly different target.

    North Carolina: Where it’s legal to marry your cousin (as long as they’re the opposite sex).

    Which all brings me to my point, which is really a question: If you believe, as you indicate here, that homosexuality is such a dangerous lifestyle, and given that homosexuality is obviously also still a lifestyle which carries a great deal of social stigma and legal antagonism (depending on one’s geographic location, anyway)–why on Earth would you also insist that homosexuality is a choice? Who would choose such an encumbered and rights-limited lifestyle? And if you don’t actually believe that homosexuality is a choice, why on Earth would you want to see homosexuals denied rights based on a trait that is not their choice, any more than you’d want to see discrimination against people because of their race or gender?

    Help me, again, try to understand how a conservative can proclaim the absolute sanctity of personal liberty (but only for certain segments of the population), and that government intrusion on personal affairs is absolute anathema (except in certain cases).

  2. May 9, 2012 6:35 pm

    I think I’m the wrong conservative to ask that question. I do think homosexuality is immoral as espoused by the Bible, but it’s fairly victimless, so it’s between the sinner and God. I want civil unions open to everyone, gay, straight, left-handed, red-haired, whatever, because I think a packaged legal contract should be available to anyone who wants to unite for life, regardless of the reasons.

    I maintain that it isn’t marriage, though, because marriage is the union of a man and a woman. My boss calls his significant other his partner, not his husband. Should they have the right to draw up a contract? Sure. We’ve discussed the semantics issue before, but I’m just flat out against taking crisp meaning and murking it up.

    Also, let me clarify: I think causal hetero-sex is just as dangerous (if not more so, considering abortion) than homosexual causal frivolity. To that end, I think limiting partners is wise and wonderful and you answer to God for your choices.

    Is homosexuality a choice or genetic? Yes, but no. I suspect there is a hormonal quirk that leaves some people leaning one way a bit and that conditioning (abuse, disfunctional families) pushes the rest of the way there. So I think homosexuality is hormonal and conditioned. Sexuality is probably on a continuum with most people 3/4 to the straight side and a few on the other end. The more permissive a society, the more people will swing to both sides of the pendulum.

    Ultimately, when you become a Christian, you place your sexuality on the alter and do some business with God. I am grateful I only had to give up the timing and scope and not the whole enchilada. Nonetheless, if I hadn’t found a wonderful and willing spouse, the whole enchilada would be on the alter and I’d need to look to God for grace. Nonetheless, I feel for my gay friends who choose celibacy.

    Whether sexuality is chosen or not, morality must be; if it’s forced on people it is useless.

    I admit to not looking at the NC amendment; does it rule out civil unions? If so, it’s wrong. I’ve no problem with a people saying no to gay marriage, but restricting legal contracts that simulate it is wrong.

  3. kverdeck permalink
    May 11, 2012 10:15 am

    Good answer, and I particularly agree with this line: “Whether sexuality is chosen or not, morality must be; if it’s forced on people it is useless.” Though I don’t at all believe, as many conservatives seem to, that morality and religion necessarily go hand-in-hand, that’s beside the point.

    Yeah, the NC amendment is a pretty shoddy piece of work. It specifies that marriage is one man and one woman, of course, but then it also goes further to declare any sort of civil union or domestic partnership illegal. I suspect because of that overarching and overbroad language it will be struck down, and that more sooner than later. Still, the fact that a knee-jerk reaction to gay marriage would cause so many conservatives to vote for a Constitutional amendment that was redundant in the first place (gay marriage having already been statutorily illegal in NC) while also restricting the rights of everyone else as collateral damage is pretty disturbing to me.

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