A career journalist and one-time Washington Post editorial board member, Jonathan Capehart explains on MSNBC how tolerance, despite its definition, is actually all about judgmenty judgment and forceful reeducation:
[T]olerance, no, is not – it should not be a two-way street. It’s a one-way street. You cannot say to someone that who you are is wrong, an abomination, is horrible, get a room, and all of those other things that people said about Michael Sam, and not be forced — not forced, but not be made to understand that what you’re saying and what you’re doing is wrong.
I love how he backs off of “forced” for the more genteel Orwellian formulation, “made to understand.” Who’s in charge of making you understand? How many will be made to understand? Just public figures who disagree with Capehart? Employees of important national organizations? Regular old private citizens chatting on the Twitterz? By what mechanism will we be made to understand by Capehart and his peers?
Sports writer William Rhoden offered a refreshing position on this, even though he’s firmly left of center himself. This is the controversial notion Capehart felt he had to push back on:
I think that to deal with things openly there has to be an open back-and-forth dialogue. Tolerance can’t just work one way. You can’t just be one way, that anybody who speaks out… this cannot turn into a Gestapo-type situation where if you express discomfort with something, then you’re cast as a homophobe and you’re fined by the league. I think that there has to be a back-and-forth.
It’s a shame that it’s a rare and noteworthy position for someone on the Left to accede that not every single person who disagrees with every one of their views is a bigot. Good on you, Mr. Rhoden.
I’m reminded of Keli Goff, writer for The Daily Beast and The Root, who risked the Left’s ire by making this fair and heterodox point after the “Duck Dynasty” row:
Though nearly half of the country opposes same-sex marriage, the media narrative has become dominated by the storyline that only a small segment of backward bigots who hate gay people oppose same-sex marriage. That simply isn’t true. (Reinforcing bias in reporting on this story is the fact that many outlets caved to pressure to use the term “marriage equality” in coverage, when such a term is an activist creation. Interracial marriage is called interracial marriage, not “marriage equality.” If supporters of same-sex marriage view the civil rights fights as comparable, the same language standard should be applied.)
Polls also show 59 percent of Americans now find same-sex couples morally acceptable. That means there are plenty of Americans who don’t have a problem with gay couples but seem to have a problem with the word “marriage” being used to define their relationships.
Among my family members who oppose same-sex marriage, I have been told to congratulate my gay friends whose weddings I have attended. But I have simultaneously been told that such unions don’t fit my relatives’ biblical definition of marriage. I have further been told that in the context of the oft repeated phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin,” they see gay people no differently than they would view a straight person like me who decides to live with someone “in sin” (as the biblical saying goes). It wouldn’t make me a bad person but one who according to biblical text would be “living in sin.” In other words, they wouldn’t throw holy water on me but also wouldn’t throw me a parade. Most of all, they wouldn’t really care how I live my romantic life at all, as long as I was happy.
There’s a big gulf between the relatives I describe and someone who “hates” gay people. The fact that so many liberals can’t see the difference speaks to the tremendous gulf that has grown in recent years between the increasingly vocal liberal wing of the Democratic Party and, well…everyone else.
But as we see at Brandeis and Smith College and Rutgers and the Washington Post, tolerance is no two-way street.