The Limits of Tolerance?

“So anyway Chlamydia and I thought of this amazing way to make money out of fleecing Christians. We packed up a goat and about a gallon of Swarfega and went and tried to book a room at the local Monastery. Of course the chief monk was rather put out:
“What’s the Goat for?”, he asked somewhat incredulously.
“Oh, we thought we’d brighten up our sex lives with it”, Chladdy replied.
“I’m afraid that lusting after strange flesh is not permitted here, particularly on the 3rd Sunday after Septuagesima. You will have to find some other form of accomodation or leave the goat outside.”
Which is exactly what we wanted to hear, of course. We sued the monastery and made a healthy fortune out of it. So much so that it had to disband and close. A bit of a shame but who the hell did thy think they were anyway to tell us what we can and cannot do? Chladdy and I struck a significant blow for freedom that day, let me tell you.”

So, let me get this right. You researched a specific location, discovered that the owners of the place objected to certain kinds of behaviour, decided that you would make an issue of said objections, took the case to court and won a “blow for freedom”. Excuse me, but who’s freedom exactly? The freedom of the monastery occupants to live by certain rules they find conducive and have done for many years? The freedom to not hold to relativist opinions concerning ethics? Securing your own personal rights to lust after strange flesh on the 3rd Sunday after Septuagesima means lessening the rights of others not to approve of such behaviour. A right they should legally have full entitlement to, if liberal values actually mean that. You may differ strongly with those views, but that does not give you the absolute right to deliberatly target places or people that do not hold to your values and then drag them through both the courts and the media when they disaprove. The fact that you were able to afford legal action would indicate that you were/are in a better financial state than they anyway, which makes your actions even more ethically reprehensible. Tolerance and respect should be earned, and not simply be the the result of being well heeled and having clever solicitors.

I suppose I am entering rather controversial grounds here, but surely a Liberal society should be about learning to live with and accept that negative opinions exist concerning various minorities and that the dual aim of any progressive thinker would be to try and understand the roots and causes of such negative feelings.

Two recent cases in England have given me pause for thought on this issue. Both involved alleged cases of homophobia and led to people with religious views being dragged through the media and the courts for no readily explicable reason.

The first case involved a gay couple who knowingly targeted a B&B accomodation owned by a couple who were not keen to allow same sex couples to share double beds, threw a well rehearsed public hissy fit over it, sued for damages and won substantial amounts of money, practically bankrupting the place in the process.

The second case involved a Christian couple being told that they would no longer be able to foster children because they could not deal positively with homosexual behaviour owing to their religious views. This despite the fact that they had lovingly fostered many children in the past who loved them, and were regarded with great affection by their local communities.

The thinking behind both of these cases seeming to be “oh religious people are all anti gay and anti gayness is a thought crime which has to be annihilated in order for fluffy bunnies to descend by parachutes spreading love and peace etc etc etc” The flaws in this outlook are obvious.

In particular the fact is that by simply ascribing negative feelings towards gay people solely to religious sources you are denying  the objective fact that it is something that is not confined to churches but is actually pretty universal. Why so few gay people holding hands and kissing in public? Fear of being treated to a bible bashing from a foaming at the mouth preacherman? Or scared of having the shit kicked out of them and ridiculed by the more generalised community?

Let’s face it there is no essential difference between the Pope declaring the condition to be an objective disorder and saying that the sole purpose of sexuality is the propagation of the species and that everything else is a waste of sperm and Darwin’s theory of sexual selection which appears to conclude that it is an objective disorder and states that the sole purpose of sexuality is tied in with propagation of the species and that everything else is a waste of sperm. So why are we not seeing more evolutionary biologists up before the courts? Do they not foster children? Or run B & B’s?

Obviously in a world where fluffy bunnies did indeed engage in aerial endeavours negative opinions about minorities would not exist, but in a world where rabbits have serious issues with parachute harnesses and ears, we can only jog along as best we can.

In the meantime, Hector, why don’t you and Chlamydia try finding places where such behaviour on your part would not be subject to such censure? There are probably plenty out there.

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About alanspage

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