From Tolerance to Coercion

Paul Zummo - Tolerance


I\’m not a conspiracy theorist. What I mean by that is that I generally don\’t go for complicated explanations when often the simplest ones will suffice. I don\’t see hidden cabals controlling society – frankly, who needs hidden cabals when most plots to transform society are wide out in the open for most to see. Yet, there is a slow and subtle transformation taking place in society that has me terribly concerned that our right to free expression is slowly being eroded. Bit by bit, not only is intolerance of homosexual lifestyles no longer tolerated, even indifference is being seen as homophobic.

This is manifest in the debate over same-sex marriage. Anyone who has attempted to engage in any type of debate with supporters of same-sex marriage can testify how far a conversation will go before you\’re shouted down as a homophobe. It\’s reached the point where I\’m not even sure gay marriage supporters even know why they feel the way they do. They have been conditioned to feel and act a certain way about the issue, and in public policy debates they very rarely display any logical ability to discuss this issue in a clear and convincing manner. But it doesn\’t matter, because the tide of public opinion polling is turning in their favor, and it is very much related to their ability to silence dissent.

It started where we all assumed it would. On the campus of George Washington University, two same-sex students are trying to remove the campus\’s Catholic chaplain. Why? Well, because they feel alienated by his \”rejection\” of homosexuality (a bit of a misnomer, but more on that in a moment.) The mere fact that this Priest is on campus, actually teaching what the Catholic Church believes about homosexual actions and defending the institution of marriage is an affront to the delicate sensibilities of these poor souls. Presumably they will not tolerate any Catholic priest on campus, unless they happened to have been \”ordained\” over the weekend in Louisville.

This sort of attack is to be expected, and no Catholic who has been paying attention to the public debate expects it to end there. Yet we\’re slowly reaching the point where simply expressing one\’s religious views on homosexuality are not the only condemnatory actions one can be guilty of in the eyes of social activists.

Last week a middle school in New York made female students ask each other for kisses as part of an \”anti-bullying\” demonstration. The parents were not given the option of having their children opt-out of this exercise, and school administrators not only defended the presentation, but they implied that more like this are on the way. The blogger Ace of Spades put it well:

There is a very real suspicion, held for good reason, that anything that is not illegal in a socialist state will be mandatory. That is, there are only two categories of actions: the illegal and criminal, and the mandatory and coerced. Only What the State Forbids and What the State Compels.

Now on  Monday we heard the news of a player for the Washington Wizards coming out of the closet. The sports media and the news media alike have treated Jason Collins as though he were a modern-day Jackie Robinson. It is undoubtedly true that openly homosexual professional athletes, considering the culture of sports locker rooms, face potentially more backlash than those in other professions. So Collins coming out as the first openly homosexual active major team sports (enough qualifiers there?) athlete is moderately newsworthy. Yet when a couple of individuals mocked not Collins but the ridiculously fawning media coverage, they were instantly derided as homophobes. On my way home this evening I listened to the local sports radio talk show and heard one of the hosts state that the reaction of homophobes to this story is to claim that it doesn\’t matter if Jason Collins is homosexual, so let\’s move on. Yes, being utterly indifferent to a professional athlete declaring his sexual preference is now considered as proof of one\’s hatred towards homosexuals.

We have move passed towards tolerance to open acceptance. In some ways, this is what the same-sex marriage debate is about in the first place (other than outright destroying the institution). There are no civil or criminal penalties for same-sex couples who call themselves wed and live as spouses. In some small degree, forcing the state to officially recognize same-sex couples as married is about having the state openly acknowledge and celebrate these unions. Again, this is not about tolerance, but rather it is about openly embracing the homosexual lifestyle.

Contra the students at George Washington, Catholics and other observant Christians aren\’t \”anti-gay\”. We are prohibited by the teaching of our own Church from openly discriminating against homosexuals (see 2358). I have seen and cringed at statements in comment boxes that are well outside the bounds of charity. As Catholics we are called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ who have homosexual tendencies. But that same call to love also instructs us to speak the truth.

I don\’t expect secularists to understand or agree with what the Church teaches about homosexuality, but it is absolutely repugnant for those who claim to celebrate diversity and tolerance to cow others into silence. Perhaps this reflexive tendency towards demonization is a sign that these individuals are not exactly brimming with confidence in their own arguments. Would someone confident in the superiority of their position demand others celebrate and endorse what they view as objectively wrong?   These are not the actions of people who have reasonable and irrefutable arguments to make on behalf of their own cause. Unfortunately for us, in a democratic society it\’s not always – or often – the side making the rational argument that wins out.

But of course, perhaps I\’m just being paranoid. By the way, here\’s a tweet from sports business writer Darren Rovell.

Jason Collins\’ agent Arn Tellem doesn\’t think NBA will push Collins on teams, but thinks it will be in a team\’s best interest to sign him.

— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 30, 2013

© 2013. Paul Zummo. All Rights Reserved.

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13 thoughts on “From Tolerance to Coercion”

  1. Pingback: Pastoral Sharings: Sixth Sunday of Easter | St. John

  2. To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton:
    “Journalism consists largely in saying Jason Collins is gay to people who never knew Jason Collins was alive.”

    1. digdigby – Your simple sentence summed up the whole “debate.” Well said. Very few realize the power of the press — except of course those in the press. The story of this athlete is now known by every American, but no one knows anything about the butcher from 3801 Lancaster, Philadelphia, Dr. Gosnel. (Youtube – “3801” to hear the real story.) The MSM picks and chooses what they want you to know and believe. In case those reading this think I am a homophobe, I have a 71-year-old sister who has been in a lesbian relationship for over 30 years. I have watched the women’s movement from the start and the gay issue from the start and I know the agenda. I love my sister with all of my heart and my entire family has embraced her over the years, but I can assure you that unless I accept her world view I am a traitor to women. Her words! I could fill pages with comments and anecdotes I have heard over the years, but that is not the important thing. Unless we accept Jesus Christ and fill our hearts with love we will never be able to return our country to the Lord. But “love” does not mean relativism. We don’t get to choose what is right and wrong. We don’t get to create God in our image and likeness. Whenever the children of Israel did that the consequences were devastating. We believe we are new and modern and scientific, but nothing is new under the sun. Same sins – same “apples” so to speak. Our national anthem is “I Did It My Way.” How dare Church authority tell me differently. If that is the case you get to be your own little pope. If that is the case then Jesus didn’t really mean it when He said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” But He did mean it and no one in the history of mankind has ever made such a bold statement. It is so egocentric as to be absurd. Let’s be careful about what “we” think the Truth is.

  3. David Spaulding

    I’d love to read your thoughts on the “tyranny of the minority” as it relates to the structure of our constitution. I have read that the Constitution was drafted to prevent tyranny of the majority and the minority. It seems to me that our hope lies in the wisdom of Framers now long dead. I do not doubt that, but for our constitutionally protected rights, the Left would have us in the same place as our Coptic brothers and sisters in Egypt in a heartbeat.

  4. Pingback: A Mass Unlike Any Other - BIG PULPIT

  5. I don’t call people homophobes because they either believe that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered” or because they believe that the expression of homosexuality is a sin. That is a part of the religious belief of many Abrahamic religions, including the RC Church. If you ascribe to a particular belief, you should adhere to that belief.
    I, on the other hand, agree with the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, a host of religious groups that consider homosexuality a simple variant among all us primates.
    I do not accept your belief; you should not accept my belief. We need to love and coexist with all our primate brothers and sisters and never, ever do anything to hurt each other either in word or action.
    BTW, I’m not gay…married 30 years with two kids. I care for a severely disabled son who is 27 and surprisingly each of his therapists in the past 15 years have been gay, and totally loving and embracing of a boy who cannot move nor speak. I define that caring by people as goodness. You should see the stares and comments he get in a church!
    It’s a big world which should welcome a huge diversity of people and belief. We should welcome all into the kingdom of the Source.

    1. Well at least your civil Phil, most people aren’t. Also, those organizations you just listed as backing the variant among primates are just the organizations that support that belief. There are many within those organizations that aren’t allowed to express a contrary view and show evidence to the contrary otherwise they would be removed from practice. They are small minded organization with large agendas and they will shut down any counter thought. So, sadly anyone that can provide evidence to the contrary won’t be heard and those who really don’t want to listen wont listen anyway. This argument is getting pointless in the press. Its only being used to ram rod through things that the majority of the world doesn’t want.

      And of course no one listens to what the Catholic Church says, they just lump them in with hate minded right wing christians that spout garbage. The Catholic Church only has compassion for homosexuals, but homosexuals don’t want the compassion, because they want the world the way they want it not the way Christ taught it.

    2. @Phil, some of the most vile, hateful, vulgar debate and comments I have seen have come from either supporters of the gay marriage movement, or from the gay hierarchy itself. Take Dan Savage, his message is not exactly one of love and peace. You only have to look on message boards to see that tolerance only extends from the gay movement to itself or its own agenda. We are all free to believe in what we wish, but we as Christians and Catholics no longer are allowed to have freedom of speech when it comes to our beliefs, or we are classified as bigots, homophobes, etc. I know many gay people who are wonderful, kind, and compassionate. Several relatives precisely. That is not in question, but I also know many wonderful, kind and compassionate Christians, atheists, Buddhists and other humans, primates, whatever you prefer. The new bigotry is now in the court of the gay activists and it’s supporters. The repression and verbal lynching of Christians, mainly Catholics who disagree.

    3. Actually, if I remember correctly, Phil was not so civil or tolerant on the transgendered thread a few weeks back. Here’s hoping he’s had a massive change of heart.

    4. Leila,
      There is… time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Ecclesiastes 3

    5. It means what it says, more eloquently than I can usually express. I respond with the appropriate outrage dependent upon the intensity of the social injustice I perceive and the author’s degree of perceived lack of compassion for the marginalized…a time to love and a time to hate?

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