Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

Real Tolerance

Posted by Foxfier on 2009/10/22


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how horrible some folks are willing to be when they say they’re totally sure they’re right.

I have no way of knowing the actual state of their belief; for that matter, Mother Teresa fought against doubt; there’s no superiority in having or not having doubts.

A while back a very good, nice lady got viciously attacked on LJ because she mentioned that she had been friends with a group of friends for ages and had never “noticed” their various races. If she’d been asked to describe them, she’d have been able to, but it didn’t matter to her. She got accused of racism, of “forcing” those friends to act a set way to be her friend. Anyone who defended her was also attacked, with anything they thought would stick. At various times I was accused of racism (because my Geek Group in the Navy also didn’t care what you looked like, we cared about your thoughts) and sexism, including sexism against myself and some sort of repression of my “true” self…. a stinking mess, really.
Because the lady’s friends, my friends and I myself didn’t behave the way their beliefs said we should, there was clearly repression, oppression, suppression– some kind of external control forcing us to behave “wrong.”
It couldn’t be that their theories were flawed, and that I enjoy wearing T-shirts, blue jeans and playing computer games, arguing about who would win, Batman or Superman (Bats!) and who the best X-Mutant is (Nightcrawler!), or watching Ironman and Slayers! instead of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
I’m pretty sure that all these folks could go on at great length about the horrors of their notion of the 50s– think the ‘classic suburb rambler, wife cooks in a pretty dress in the kitchen while wearing pearls, a boy and girl, dad comes home at six in a suit’ archetype– and never realize that their idea of what folks ‘really’ want is just as horribly restraining as their nightmare of the 50s. (Makes you want to go over what you believe, doesn’t it?)
At one point, I remember sharing a rather large complement that “my guys” offered me– some topic was being discussed, and someone mentioned that they couldn’t talk about this around girls. The conversation was light enough that I felt it appropriate to tease him, saying something like “Hey! What am I, chopped liver?” I was deeply touched by the statement: “Aw, you don’t count.” Anyone who grew up around close-in-age siblings knows that sisters don’t count as girls, generally. I could not manage to get across this idea– I don’t know if the flaw lies in me, or if they simply couldn’t understand the concept.
Anyways.
This came to mind again, for once because someone got it right. Someone managed to show actual, honest tolerance for something they disagreed with; I’m sorry that I only point this out because the man who was actually able to honestly show tolerance got smacked down by someone he’d respected for ages who wasn’t able to do so.
Here’s the Anchoress’ version of the real tolerance in action:

For those who are unfamiliar with the story of Jillette and Bible, you can come up to speed here; Jillette movingly describing his encounter with an Evangelical Christian fan who loved him enough to give him a Bible. Although he is a professed atheist, Jillette understood and appreciated what the fan had done.

And here is the post and video she’d seen the night before, and that had stayed in her mind through the night:

Penn Jillette: Getting yelled at by my idol for appearing on Glenn Beck
POSTED AT 7:11 PM ON OCTOBER 21, 2009 BY ALLAHPUNDIT
SHARE ON FACEBOOK | PRINTER-FRIENDLY

Via Moxie, the emotion here is raw enough to make this a surprisingly tough watch — but stick with it, as it’s genuinely moving. I’m surprised, frankly, that GB hasn’t had him on the show yet to talk about it. Or maybe he has and I’m out of the loop?

Both videos (Bible here, open mind here) have language warning, but I think are worth the listen.

I’ve known as far back as I can remember that probably the most dangerous folks to have around are those who want to do things for your own good, but not out of love. This is why I’m a republican–small R– and generally vote for the Republican party.
Like the old saying goes, the road to Hell is paved in good intentions; working to balance folks’ freedom vs other folks’ freedom seems a lot safer than balancing freedom against ‘good.’
Probably, this will go right past the folks who actually would benefit from evaluating their ideas and ideals, and will only be heard by the folks who already have doubt.
But there’s always a chance.
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2 Responses to “Real Tolerance”

  1. John Hitchcock said

    I liked the Bible video. It showed Penn’s class and appreciation for honesty and heart-felt beliefs. Penn declared sane a man whose beliefs were diametrically opposed to his own. Both Penn and the man about whom Penn was talking had loads of class and character.

    Then I went down and read a page of comments. The vast majority of them had no class whatsoever. There was no compassion, no love, nothing. It’s something I’ve come to expect from people who hate Christians and anything to do with Christianity, but half the hate was coming from people claiming to be Christians. It was like listening to an out-of-tune cymbal falling down a steel staircase in a quiet, empty warehouse.

    That other video, dang. That was rabid-dog hatred Smothers spewed forth. That anyone would deign to dialogue on-air with someone Smothers despises?

    I agree, that was real tolerance in the first video, not so much in the commentary or in the second video.

    Of course, I have to say I have a very hard edge. I can have heated but civil disagreements with some people or be highly dismissive of nutcases, so I’m not necessarily the most tolerant person in the room.

  2. foxfier said

    It just reminds me that figuring folks in general based on youtube videos is a bit like forming your ideas on Catholic theology via the Godfather movies. ;^p

    Even my husband isn’t cynical enough to consider them anything but far, far outliers….

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