Tolerating Intolerance – When is enough too much?

Recently, Newt Gingrich commented on his show, Crossfire, that gay people should essentially, be tolerant and accepting of the intolerance of others, specifically those who vocalize their anti-gay opinions.Derrick Ward

This is all in regards to the now famous (or should it be infamous?) Michael Sams kiss after he got the call telling him he was drafted into the NFL, and the repercussions of two NFL players who voiced their opinions on the matter. Dolphins safety Don Jones was fined and suspended by his team for his anti-gay tweets and former NFL player Derrick Ward claims to have received death threats for his ‘no bueno’ tweet.

Gingrich said “You guys talk about how you want to be inclusive, except of course, if somebody tweets this, then having a death threat or ‘let’s send them off to sensitivity training,'” and that “that’s repression, that’s not inclusive.”

He goes on: “Shouldn’t we also be teaching people who are gay to be open and understanding of people who — ?” and at this point is cut off by the panelists responding to his statements.

People who what, Newt? People who spew hatred and intolerance beyond that of “I don’t like gays”? People who refuse to recognize the LGBTQIA+ community as more than second class citizens? People who refuse to recognize the LGBTQIA+ community as human beings?

Well, I’ve got news for you, friend, the LGBTQIA+ community has been tolerating intolerance for ages. You had just turned 27 years old when Stonewall occurred. I’m sure you’re aware of the Stonewall riots – when the LGBT community had finally had enough of tolerating intolerance and rioted back against the police? Remember? That was 45 years ago. Then there was the time when homosexuality was persecuted through public executions by the Spanish against the Aztecs in the 1500’s. Before that, there was the persecution and intolerance of homosexuality in China in 600 BCE, the time when homosexuality was listed as a mental illness with the American Psychological Association – which, by the way, didn’t end until the 1970’s and has still been coded under the 302.0 set of codes in the DSM despite the fact it’s no longer considered a mental illness.

So you see, Newt? We’ve been tolerating intolerance since the beginning of time, truthfully. When is enough too much? When does tolerance stop being tolerance and become oppression? We’ve been told we’re going to burn in Hell, we’ve been beaten, killed, sexually assaulted, denied basic rights, and imprisoned because of who we are. How much of that should we be subject to tolerate?

As far as the death threats go – no, I don’t agree with that. Just like I don’t agree with ‘Slushie Woman’ here in my hometown.Violence begets violence and rarely solves anything. And if two people are shouting at each other, there’s no one left to listen. But more importantly, these people – the ones that send out death threats or resort to acts of intimidation or violence – they’re the extremes, but they also represent the growing unrest of tolerating intolerance.

I remember being told that if I didn’t have anything nice to say about someone, then I shouldn’t say anything at all. These NFL players are celebrities. They’re in the spotlight. So they need to be conscious of what they say, because what they say will receive publicity and if it’s homophobic or racist or otherwise inflammatory, what they say WILL receive a probably less than cordial response.

Newt, what is it you expect the LGBTQIA+ community to do? Sit idly by with our mouths shut while others continue to preach hatred and intolerance? Again, there’s a vast difference between someone saying “I hate gay people” and “I think all gays should be put to death”.

It’s important to pick our battles, but it’s also important to make our voices heard in the ugly face of intolerance.

The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls. Elizabeth Cady Stanton

 

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