Duck Dynasty: No, Tolerance Doesn't Have To Go Both Ways

Sorry. Duck Dynasty again. It's always the stupid shit that forces a dialogue, it seems.

There's a lot of whining going on about there being no tolerance for people of faith in America anymore.

Here's the thing about tolerance. Tolerance (which I've posted about before here) does not require that one be tolerant of social injustice. When we denounce beliefs which cause harm to others (and yes, denigrating LGBT folks and equating homosexuality with bestiality is indeed harmful), we are in no way in conflict with the concept of tolerance. Tolerance, in a global declaration by the UN, is defined as "the responsibility that upholds human rights, pluralism (including cultural pluralism), democracy and the rule of law. It involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism and affirms the standards set out in international human rights instruments...The practice of tolerance does not mean toleration of social injustice or the abandonment or weakening of one's convictions."

When people state that they stand with Robertson because he has the right to speak freely about his faith, they're right -- he does have that right. But it begs the question -- are Christians required by their faith to malign human beings for their natural traits? (If so, that's a horribly flawed morality.) And are those who disagree required to tolerate it?

The reason why it has become "politically incorrect" to denigrate gays and lesbians is not because society no longer tolerates religious belief or family values. It's because this view of sexuality and gender is as unethical and as harmful as the Taliban belief that women should stay at home rather than go to school. It is quite simply archaic and discriminatory thinking that has no value in modern society -- thinking that is morally dubious at best. While those who embrace reason, science, and human progress are moving on and leaving behind naive and outdated views from ancient texts, others remain kicking and screaming, believing that others are being intolerant of their Bronze Age ideas about sexuality and gender (or about the origins of the cosmos and life).

If we must tolerate religious views of LGBT-condemning fundamentalist Christians, then we must also tolerate the religious views of women-stoning fundamentalist Muslims. We can't say that one is any more or less correct. They are both morally unsound and archaic views that cause harm to others.

Why aren't people tolerant of those who wish to cure epilepsy or mental illness by drilling holes in the skull? (This was a common early medical practice.) Well, mostly because we learned more about biology, realized that we were mistaken, and we changed our approach.

There is nothing about tolerance that requires someone to tolerate the mistreatment or maligning of other human beings because of their natural traits. So crying foul on this one and saying it's an attack on faith and family values is to miss the point. Because anti-LGBT sentiment is not a value. Any faith that dictates that it is, is morally flawed. Acquiescing to such ideology is not a virtue.


The Duck Dynasty Thing Has Absolutely Nothing To Do With Free Speech

The creator of this image doesn't get it.
So this whole Duck Dynasty/A&E thing. I've been seeing a lot of comments in the blogosphere/Twittersphere, and petitions being passed around on Facebook, and one thing seems clear: Too many Americans have no idea what the First Amendment does and doesn't do.

Robertson has all the rights in the world to believe and say what he wants about LGBT folks. Nobody can take that right away from him. However, his employer, A&E, has no obligation whatsoever to pay him for making comments which they feel are not aligned with their values. They are in no way compelled to continue to provide a forum for a guy who has offended a significant number of their viewers.

I imagine if an employee of Fox News (or any other network) made comments on or off the air that equated Christians with swine, that individual would be suspended. And I imagine that the same people who are backing Robertson and boycotting A&E, would applaud the suspension of this employee.  And if he were to remain, I assume they would boycott the Network.

You have the right to say whatever crazy, hurtful, or morally dubious thing you want (short of hate speech, which is not protected).  You don't, however, have the right to keep your TV job after you say it.