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OPINION

That Giant Liberty-Sucking Sound From the Tolerant Left

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Various leftist grievance groups have insisted for years that they just want equal treatment and equal rights, that they only want to end discrimination and that they come with an attitude of "live and let live." Nope.

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We've long known that the "tolerance" police don't merely want equal rights and to be treated with civility. They require that you honor their ideas as superior, reject your own contrary ideas and do penance for ever having held your own ideas.

If you make the mistake of dissenting from their dogma, you must be shamed -- and punished. There is no semblance of tolerance in their bones. They are militantly aggressive and spoiling for any opportunity to pressure and intimidate people into submission. This suppression of our liberties doesn't just emanate from the government; the long arm of the private sector often enforces uniformity of thought with the same coercive power.

Let me give you just a few examples of probably hundreds, perhaps thousands. Do you remember Jack Phillips, the poor Christian owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, the baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because it would have violated his religious convictions? He didn't deny them service, mind you, but would not bow to their demand that he prepare a cake to celebrate their wedding.

The complaining couple weren't being harmed. They could have gone anywhere else to purchase a custom-made wedding cake. But they refused to allow this baker to exercise his religious liberty. This surely was a deliberate targeting of a Christian baker to force him to conform to their values and thought edicts.

Though the Supreme Court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had violated Phillips' First Amendment liberties, he is being harassed again -- this time by Denver attorney Autumn Scardina, for refusing to bake a custom-ordered cake to celebrate her transition from male to female. The commission has predictably ruled that Phillips was guilty of discrimination. Are you kidding me?

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Again, Phillips is being targeted. His attorneys aptly describe it as an "obvious setup." Christian liberties must be subordinated to bizarre leftist ethical standards. We'll see how this nightmare unfolds in the coming months.

Another egregious example of leftist intolerance that caught my eye was actor and comedian Kevin Hart's being bullied into stepping down from his role as host of the upcoming Academy Awards. After he was selected for the role, critics savaged Hart for allegedly homophobic tweets he had made almost a decade ago and for saying during a 2010 special, "Seriously Funny," that as a heterosexual male, he would prevent his son from being gay if he could. Though he initially refused to apologize and insisted he had matured since he made those remarks (which he said were jokes), just hours later he announced he would decline to host and offered his apology "to the LGBTQ community for (his) insensitive words from (his) past."

But Hart's public repentance, apology and stepping down from the gig weren't enough. There would be no forgiveness, even for a sincere apology.

Brandi Miller, in a column for HuffPost, said that even after apologizing for being insensitive and saying he was evolving, Hart "still misses the point." According to Miller, Hart's critics "are challenging his professed evolution. Can he show that he's realized that he harmed people and make right on the harm that he caused? Apparently not."

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Even a "sincere apology" wouldn't clear him. "A true apology, a true acknowledgment of harm done from Hart would involve talking about the implications of his words," said Miller, "not just apologizing for who he used to be. ... Apologizing is like a math problem. To get the credit, you have to show your work. ... Let's be honest, tweeting 'I apologize' isn't that hard and doesn't really involve much internal reckoning, but with his actions, he can show a changed life."

What "work" would Miller have Hart do to earn his redemption? Miller suggested he could have donated money to LGBTQ organizations or requested an LGBTQ-identifying co-host (or even host) for the Academy. As I said, get him down and kick him, and then neuter him.

Another columnist piled on in USA Today, saying Hart should become a stronger comic, scrapping his "homophobic jokes" -- which he had already scrapped, by the way -- and "make a 20-minute killer set about his homophobic fears." There you go. He can't just apologize; he must affirmatively adopt the critics' vision, even to the point of changing his entire routine. Don't just back off the subject of homosexuality; embrace it and say how much you love it and say that you now regard it as the highest possible value. Then and only then will your sins be expiated. (Even then, he'd never be unleashed and see his liberty restored. The threat of sanctions for any future infraction would always hang over his head.)

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How dare dissenters from the totalitarian leftist orthodoxy think they can atone for past sins just by apologizing and demanding equal rights for everyone. They must also renounce any residual beliefs that might offend the activists. This is leftist tolerance, forgiveness and compassion.

We hear a lot of demands from a lot of groups in this country, but one ideal that is rarely touted anymore is America's foremost founding idea -- liberty. Increasingly, the modern left is gobbling up the liberties -- speech, association, religion, firearms, due process -- of anyone who doesn't embrace its worldview, and liberty lovers everywhere had better wake up to this threat and do a much better job of fighting back.

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