Tuesday, April 19, 2011
That's the title of G.K. Chersterton book, written decades ago, and making some eerily true observations which ring true today even more so than they did when the book was written. The title of it comes to mind lately as I see some videos online... videos of college-aged students who are holding peaceful demonstrations in legal locations, and are being called "intolerant" for doing so. But who is really being intolerant during these demonstrations? Apparently, some people believe that it is okay to be rude, insulting, and behave violently towards others as long as you think their position is "intolerant." In other words, it is okay to not tolerate those who fit your definition of "intolerance" and show them this in a hateful way. So I ask, what is wrong with the world???
The students who were demonstrating were doing so in support of "traditional" marriage, that is, marriage between one woman and one man. That is what their banner sign said that they held. Other ways in which they demonstrated were by handing out pamphlets to those who passed by and would take them, answering questions from passersby, reciting prayers such as the rosary, and chanting lines such as, "A moral wrong can never be a civil right." Chanting, meaning repeating it loudly and clearly, not yelling it in anger. Oh, and they were playing bagpipes and a drum. ;)
So, what would the appropriate, tolerant response be for those passersby who disagreed? Perhaps they could ignore the demonstrators. Perhaps they could engage them in calm debate. Perhaps they could just roll their eyes and go snicker about it to their friends. Perhaps they could start a counter-protest in which they peacefully held signs of their own and chanted their own sayings loudly yet calmly. Maybe they could have even started praying for the demonstrators if they truly believed that their words were at odds with God, with morals.
But what did many of them do instead? Well, there is a video of it all (my summary beneath, as it is a bit long):
In summary, one counter-protester ran up and jumped through the banner, tearing it down from one of its posts, while others applauded the destruction of others' property. Tolerant? Others shouted cuss words at the demonstrators (who, by the way, were using no vulgarity themselves). Tolerant? Still others gave the middle finger to the demonstrators and their video camera. Tolerant? Others screamed at them, rather than calmly debating them, using insults and attacks ("You're disgusting, just look at yourselves!!") rather than facts. Tolerant? Another actually spit in the face of one of the demonstrators, and pamphlets were torn up and spat upon as well. Tolerant? There are other videos in which similar behavior is displayed: people spitting on their van windows as they leave, vulgar speech directed at the demonstrators themselves, and other acts of outright hostility, including people screaming, "God is dead!!" over and over.
All these actions show little regard for other human beings and their dignity, and their rights to disagree. The people who committed these atrocities probably believe that they are justified in that they think it was an atrocious topic on which to come out and demonstrate. But they are so caught up in seeing the pro-marriage side as being "disgusting," or "intolerant," that they think it is justifiable to respond in violence, insults, and outright rage. Do they not see that this greatly hurts their own position? No matter how wrong you think somebody is, responding with hostility and outrage and hatred is no way to respond. These people need to examine their mantra of "tolerance" and try extending it to everyone, including those who they think are wrong.
Another thing I have noticed is that the pro-marriage side, and in abortion debates, the pro-life side, are the ones who typically remain cool and collected, non-violent, non-vulgar. Sure, there are the wackos who kill abortionists and such, but you don't see a crowd of pro-lifers standing by and laughing or applauding such horrific acts, because pro-lifers generally don't respond to killing with more killing. So why do many people respond to what they perceive as "intolerance" with intolerance? I have yet to hear of a pro-life or pro-marriage rally in which vulgarities are shouted through a microphone, yet that was done at a recent abortion-supporting rally in DC. Some people who want abortion to remain legal actually raided and destroyed a crisis pregnancy center in NYC recently... stole all their equipment such as ultrasound machines, even stole the supply of Pampers (one of the more expensive diaper brands) they had in a closet to give to new mothers in poverty who were choosing to keep their babies. They even tore out the floors, just to be hateful and deprive the pregnancy center of some of its money, I suppose. And why can't I find a link in the first two pages of results on Google that comes from a mainstream media source? This was obviously not reported much by them. But has the pro-choice side come out strongly condemning the vandals, the way that the pro-life side responds when somebody murders an abortionist? No, they have not. Silence can be misconstrued as approval, and I would hope nobody really approves of this kind of behavior... but is there really a "they deserve this" mentality among some pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage people? That people are deserving of acts of hostility because of what they believe?
A public library recently denied a group access to a meeting room which they had previously okayed, because they heard that the pro-abortion side was going to come out and protest if they didn't cancel this group. The group wanted to privately view a movie called Blood Money, which is about abortion and the profits made by it and such. The library backed down and told the group that no, they could not use the room to watch this movie even though they'd been given permission already. Were they also showing some intolerance, or were they truly afraid that where pro-abortion people are protesting, they often make a scene and are vulgar? The video above has been removed from Youtube with no explanation - again, are they intolerant of the demonstrators' message, or are they acting out of fear of making waves due to the anger shown by the opposite side?
Does it make my blood boil to see people supporting abortion with sayings like, "It's not a baby," or "Get your rosaries off my ovaries" (clearly a misunderstanding of basic biology, as it is the uterus which they should be referencing here!)? Sure. But I am absolutely not going to yell cuss words at them, make obscene hand gestures, and try to tear down their signs. And how about gay marriage supporters? It doesn't even get me riled up. I disagree, and we can leave it at that. I don't feel a desire to tear up their pamphlets or spit on them.
If anybody ever sees a pro-traditional marriage person yell obscenities and give the finger to a pro-gay marriage demonstrator in public, let me know. I don't think you're really going to see it. And I live in the South, people, where we have some really fearful people... I saw KKK members in full garb on the downtown street corners here only 12 years ago. The thing is, it is not about fearing other people's beliefs and then attacking them with insults. It is about explaining one's position thoughtfully and respectfully. I only hope that no matter what their beliefs, more people can express their disagreement by being kind about it, by assuming that the other people have good intentions and are real human beings deserving of their own dignity. If they are demonstrating peacefully and respectfully, then we need to respond peacefully and respectfully ourselves.