Mike Adams recently reported on the landmark ruling of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Julea Ward case, noting that the decision eloquently defended “fundamental religious freedom against a full-frontal assault from the LGBT community.” In the court’s own words, “Tolerance is a two-way street. Otherwise, the rule mandates orthodoxy, not anti-discrimination.”
Unfortunately, there are daily reminders that tolerance is anything but a two-way street in America, and I’m not just talking about extreme personal opinions, like the ones expressed in this email from a man named Boris (yet another listener to my dialogue with gay activist Mitchell Gold). He took exception to my affirmation that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, writing:
“So you advocate for human rights violations against gays. You want gays to be executed, killed and tortured in the name of religion? You don’t think gays deserve ANY human rights or protections and in the name of religion you can do anything to gays.
“You are pure evil. Pure evil personified. I know that it must hurt you not to be able to kill or detain and torture your fellow American citizens just because they are gay but at least you can condone violence against black and Arab gay persons.
“You are [a] sick, vile person without any human decency.
“I despise you and the violent hatred you espouse. I hope that one day you, your children and grandchildren will face precisely the fate you advocate for gays to endure.
“You are one sick puppy."
“Without any respect whatsoever, because I do not respect people who love violence and murder in the name of their religion.”
Ah yes, the enlightened voice of tolerance! It reminds me of a comment posted by a viewer of a YouTube clip which included my interview on the Tyra Banks show where I dared to suggest that the best case scenario for a child struggling with Gender Identity Disorder was that the child be helped from the inside out, with the goal that the child would eventually feel at home with his or her body. (I advocated for this as opposed to a boy going to school dressed in girl’s clothing, then being put on hormone blockers to delay the onset of puberty, then going through sex-change surgery at the youngest possible age, then being on hormones for life, still never becoming a fully-functioning male or female).
In response to this apparently outrageous suggestion on my part, a 16 year-old girl commented, “He [meaning me] deserves to be beaten, just like trans women get beaten worldwide, and murdered even. . . . I would like to do a lot of violent things to him too. I would horse kick him in the [expletives] while wearing high heels. I hate that man. YES!!!!! He is a [EXPLETIVE] IDIOT!!!!! Don’t you just hate him??!!”
And how did she describe herself? “I’m a 16 year old girl, who is fairly intellectually mature; I’m probably the most intellectually mature teenager in my school. I am open minded, and a loving person.” Indeed!
The sad fact is that these individual voices reflect a prevailing sentiment: Extreme intolerance, even to the point of rank hatred, is justified when it is directed against those perceived to be intolerant. As I have been told more than once, “It’s a good thing to be intolerant of the Nazis and the KKK, and you are no better than them.”
And what does this look like in practice? Just ask Martha Boggs, manager of the Bistro at the Bijou in Knoxville, Tennessee. When Republican State Senator Stacey Campfield came in for breakfast, she made clear to him that he was not welcome there. Why? He introduced a bill that “prohibits the teaching of or furnishing of materials on human sexuality other than heterosexuality in public school grades K-8,” and he has stated that AIDS is primarily a gay male disease, with apparent sordid origins.
According to Campfield, who exited graciously, Boggs greeted him with these words, “I’m not serving you, you’re a homophobe and hate gay people.”
As she explained, “When I saw him at the front door, I told him to leave. It’s just my way to show support for the gay community and stand up to somebody I think is a bully. He’s really gone from being stupid to dangerous. I think he needs to know what it feels like to be discriminated against.”
There you have it. “Senator Campfield, you deserve to be discriminated against. You’re a dangerous homophobic bully, and I have every right not to serve you” – in Knoxville, Tennessee, of all places, where blacks used to be refused service because of their color.
For her actions, Boggs has received thousands of affirmative posts and emails, and she is being hailed as a hero in the LGBT community.
What was that about tolerance being a two-way street?
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.