Whenever someone freely spews hatred and ignorance, it always seems to me that there are people rushing to that person’s side, claiming that we as a society need to be tolerant. Everyone wants everyone to be so fucking tolerant that I seriously doubt they even know what the word means anymore. So let’s be clear; you should tolerate other people’s life choices that in no way affect you and make them a happier person. You should not tolerate behavior and beliefs that actively harm other people and lead to the degradation of an entire group of individuals.
Simply put, there are things we should be intolerant of. Child molesters, for example. Should we find out that someone is abusing a child, we should not rush to be tolerant of their life choices and decisions. We need to turn them in to the police and make sure that they are punished for abusing a child and to ensure that they don’t harm anyone else. Sexually abusing children is a bad thing. Not something that we should tolerate or be nice about.
The same with calling gay people sinners and contributing to the idea that they are flawed, broken individuals who had to refrain from having meaningful romantic relationships with their chosen partners in order to be okay with someone else’s cosmic deity. As much as people want to claim that this kind of hatred is just someone’s personal opinion and doesn’t do any harm, it does. It keeps the idea that gay people are secondary citizens alive, and it will continue to add to the prejudice and stigma against them.
We are not at a time where the LGBTQIA+ community has equal rights and are thought of as equals among their straight, cis peers. We are living in a time when gay teens are far more likely to be bullied than their peers, and they are far more likely to take their own lives as a result. We are living in a time when gay people are murdered and transgender people are murdered at even more alarming rates, just for simply existing. We are not living in a time when anyone can afford to allow ignorance and misinformation to flood the media, contributing to the already terrible way that queer people are being treated in society.
The truth of the matter is that people are only calling for tolerance of intolerance because the groups being discriminated against are so unpopular. Very few people call for us to tolerate the Westboro Baptist Church, allowing them free reign to picket soldier’s funerals waving signs that thank their god for IEDs and dead soldiers. If someone is really that hell bent on tolerance, then start with them. But no one will. Because what they do should not be tolerated, because it is harmful.
Now, this raises the question of whether this detrimental form of speech should be censored by the government and the answer is, of course, no. There is nothing that you shouldn’t be allowed to say. There should be no abridgement on your speech, no matter how backwards, silly, and hateful it is. Although people are free to say whatever they say, society is free to decry it, and see it for the harmful nonsense that it is. You can say anything you want, but we don’t have to like it.
Nor should we. At this point so many people, children and teens especially, are dying that what we personally believe about homosexuality should be a moot point. We should all understand that, no matter your sexuality or gender identity or what you like to do in your free time, you have the right to live your life. Adding to the cesspool of hatred and stigma that these people are already up against is just blindingly cruel.
On the other hand, people want to claim that Christians face the same discrimination for their views and have to wade through the same intolerance. Here’s the tiny difference; Christians are not killing themselves or being killed in staggeringly high numbers, just for being Christians. Also, Christianity is a choice, unlike your sexuality. You can chose to no longer be Christian; you can’t choose to no longer be gay or transgender. So when a Christian cries that they’re being discriminated against because someone called them on their bigotry, I have to roll my eyes and think of them as a bit of a drama queen.
When someone stops you from beating up the smallest kid in your grade, you don’t then get to announce that you’re being discriminated against for your harmless views. You are harming vulnerable people, and you deserve to have society let you know that this is not acceptable. The government has no involvement in this at all. The people that you live in community with are telling you that they do not find it acceptable for you to victimize an already victimized segment of the population.
So when someone calls for tolerance for a point of view that actively harms people, don’t fall for it. Tolerance is not a one-size fits all Snuggie™ that we can wrap around any issue. Tolerance is for people who just want to live their lives and be who they are, without fear of harassment, bullying, or being raped or murdered. Tolerance is for people who just want to exist and find their own way in life, even if it’s not a traditional path. Tolerance should not be extended to the bullies.