“Tolerance is a two-way street”

The New Jersey Legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill, which Governor Chris Christie swiftly vetoed, renewing his push for it to go to a referendum. Because apparently, minority rights are supposed to come at the explicit approval of the majority .

But onto Alaska. Proposition 5 is going before the Anchorage voters which would add “sexual orientation” and “transgender identity” to the list of protected classes.

Of course, this has a few people frothing at the mouth.

The Alaska Patriarchy Family Council has a cry. They’ve posted a list of 10 reasons to oppose the proposition [pdf]. Most of them are banal hand waiving—claiming it’s poorly worded or not needed. But there are a couple that I’d like to address, because the same arguments pop up here as well.

Prop. 5 forces our city government to take sides in the “culture wars”

That’s the government’s job. When it comes to human rights, the government has to take sides—and they must side with liberty. Should they have not taken sides, there’d probably still be slavery, and segregation.

Religious institutions are not adequately protected

Translation: “It’s a breach of my human rights to prevent me from breaching other people’s human rights!”

*cry*

This one pops up a lot. In New Zealand, the Human Rights Act 1993 has a provision exempting organised religion from being subject to the legislation. This is indefensible. You don’t get to claim your religion exempts you from not being allowed to discriminate against other humans, without forfeiting your own protections.

No matter what your religion tells you to do, you cannot discriminate against people. That’s the law. If you want to live in a free society, you have to make concessions. You can believe whatever you like in your head, but you cannot discriminate.

This brings me to their last point:

Tolerance must be a two-way street

Right back at you.

I’ve been yelled at, I’ve been called names. I’ve had straight men look at me as if they’re worried I’m going to rape them. I’ve had friendly, jovial conversations suddenly turn to painful silence, getting looks across the table as if he would have stabbed me if he had a knife. I’ve feared for my safety. I’ve feared for my life.

Mostly from people who were previously pious—people who preached compassion and love, now revealing their bottomless pits of hate.

And when I try to defend myself, when I try to call them on it, I’m the bigot.

The first thing they demand is that I respect their beliefs. Their beliefs that I’m evil, that I’m a sinner, that I should die.

Simply by being open, I’m intolerant. Simply by existing I’m breaching their freedom.

Tolerance is a two-way street? I wouldn’t know, because people like the Alaska Family Council are taking up both lanes, and have set up roadblocks.

It’s the whole privilege thing, and it needs to end.

As Rachel Maddow says in the video I linked to above, you don’t vote on human rights. That’s why they’re called “rights.”

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2 thoughts on ““Tolerance is a two-way street”

    • I was thinking of adding that cartoon…

      That’s why I changed the quote on the main page to the one from Georgina Beyer. Talking about takatāpui she said “we should never accept being tolerated. We should only tolerate being accepted for who and what we are.”

      You tolerate a cold. You tolerate your neighbours yappy dog. You tolerate things that annoy you, that are nuisances. If you find people’s sexuality or gender or race a nuisance, then you’re a bigot, whether you ‘tolerate’ us or not.

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