False Equivalence of Intolerance
A well-intended friend gently suggested I need to be more tolerant of opposing viewpoints. Lately I’ve been drawing a clear line in the spaces of women’s health, LGBTQ rights, police reform and voting. It’s rubbed some people wrong. The nudge was for me to consider what ‘woke culture’ has forced others to tolerate that goes against their closely held beliefs.
Let’s talk about that. Being openminded to, and considerate of, diverse views and beliefs is important to me. I aspire for that to be true about me because I’ve come to recognize how big this world is and how narrow my perspective of all that’s involved with human life on our planet is destined to be. It’s impossible to see and know even a rice grain’s worth of the collective human experience, past and present. Forget about understanding the future and the unknown of what happens beyond our flesh and blood existence.
When assessing tolerance of differing views, it’s important to note the target of the opinion. I have a person I care deeply about who has very rigid religious and political views about current events and is hurt by what she views to be the suggestion she is a bad person for her beliefs. This is the issue, however. Her beliefs aren’t exclusively about how she and those who share her views should live. They are mostly about how others should live and what others’ opportunities should be regardless of those individuals’ beliefs or circumstances.
There is nothing about my beliefs that:
· Dictates what medical care she needs and can receive
· Forces her to die of a treatable condition
· Denies her easy access to voting or jeopardizes her vote being counted
· Denies her the freedom to establish a legally recognized marriage with the life partner of her choosing
· Denies her the freedom to take medications to protect her from an unwanted pregnancy
· Denies her the ability to adopt a child
· Sanctions others mistreating her because of a perceived power imbalance
· Forces her to actively participate in religious rituals in contrast to her beliefs
· Forces her to live an identity in contrast with her personal understanding of self
· Penalizes her for refraining from pledging loyalty to a flag, government, individual or agency she views to be harming others
· Denies her identity, family configuration, religious or political beliefs from being acknowledged in materials or conversations occurring in a school
· Bases her access to medical care on her financial situation
· Criminalizes her efforts to help another person in need
· Forbids her from traveling freely throughout this country to obtain resources and services she needs to be healthy
She, and others like her, can’t say the same thing. In fact, it’s the direct opposite. Dictating how others live their lives is a requirement to honor their own beliefs and the figure(s) inspiring them.
The truth is, I am intolerant of intolerance. Does that make me intolerant, too? Perhaps it does. But it’s not an equal level of intolerance and it’s disingenuous to frame it that way.
Do I think those who disagree with me are bad people? No. Not unless they weaponize those views to harm others.