When I saw the headline earlier this week about how “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson had commented on a certain sexuality-defined group, I wondered how long it would be before he got the “treatment.”
I saw the next headline no more than a few hours later.
In case you haven’t heard, the faith-filled Louisianan wound up in hot water after being asked what was sinful by a GQ interviewer and offering the following answer, as presented by the magazine:
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God.”
Can you guess which of the above groups caused what subsequently befell Robertson: suspension from his A&E show?
It wasn’t the greedy.
Or the idolaters.
It wasn’t bestialists, though there’s an effort to legitimize their behavior now, too.
Nope — not the slanderers, either.
Hint: One of the organizations whose complaints got Robertson suspended was GLAAD, and that doesn’t stand for Guiding Light Advocates for Adulterers and Drunkards.
Of course, we all know the answer. GLAAD characterized Robertson’s comments as vile and “extreme,” and now he joins Dr. Laura Schlessinger and others whose careers were hobbled by the Velvet Mafia.
This is probably where I’m expected to ask, “Where’s freedom of speech?” or whine about how the left should respect the other side’s beliefs. But this would ignore reality, which is that every civilization has its “values.” And as someone once pointed out, stigmas are the corollaries of values; if we’re going to value certain things, it follows that what contradicts or condemns them will be de-valued.
People who don’t understand this will utter refrains such as “I don’t care what you do in your private life, just don’t shove it in my face,” as if something can be completely de-stigmatized but then, somehow, remain in the closet. Those who do grasp it, however, might say something such as what homosexual activists Hunter Madsen and Marshall Kirk wrote in their book After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90’s. They said that once homosexuality was normalized, those who would “still feel compelled” to oppose it would be “cow[ed] and silence[d] ... as far as possible” and that if homosexual activists can “produce a major realignment solidly in favour of gay rights, the intransigents (like the racists of twenty years ago) will eventually be effectively silenced by both law and polite society.” And what do we see 20 years later? Criticism of homosexuality will get overseas Westerners punished through law and Americans punished through social pressure.
How’s that tolerance workin’ for ya’?
“Tolerance,” as it has been marketed, was always a con. Aristotle said that “[t]olerance is the last virtue of a dying society,” but it’s also the vice that kills it. And it so often is a vice because it’s generally misunderstood. For one thing, tolerance always implies a negative, real or perceived; you wouldn’t have to tolerate a beautiful car or a delectable meal — you relish those things. But you might have to tolerate a cold or bad weather. Thus, tolerance is only noble in two situations: One is when dealing with something objectively negative that cannot be eliminated, such as irremediable pain. The other is when confronted with something you don’t happen to like and could avoid, but that is objectively good or neutral; an example would be tolerating a food you detest in order to avoid offending your hosts.
So while we might admire a person who can bear a cross with a stiff upper lip, what if he abides a negative he needn’t put up with? He then is either a doormat or a masochist.
The doormat, that is.
This brings us back to that modernistic “I don’t care ... just don’t shove it in my face” attitude. This is a pipe dream and the first step toward degradation and tyranny; it is a false Americanism. As John Wesley said, “What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.” And once this happens it is ridiculous to wonder why the thing in question is out of the closet; accepted things by definition always will be. At this point those with an affinity for it will take the next step: marketing.
This is precisely what Madsen and Kirk prescribed with respect to homosexuality, writing that Americans needed to be desensitized to the behavior via a “continuous flood of gay-related advertising,” a “conversion of the average American’s emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media.” Madsen, mind you, was a marketing man by trade.
And when this marketing is successful enough and the newly exalted product is considered a good, what will that which condemns it be considered? This is how good becomes bad, bad becomes good, and those conned into being tolerant come to be seen as intolerable (I discuss this in-depth here).
And thus is Christianity being suppressed. Make no mistake, the concept of sin is central to Christianity — and sexual sin is part of that centrality. Lust, correctly defined as disordered sexual desire, is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. So saying you cannot talk about sexual sin — in its entirety — is to say you cannot talk about Christianity in its entirety. And this is part of the process of relegating Christianity to the closet.
This tolerance trap is why Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote in 1931:
America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance — it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.
... Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil, and a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment.... Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in their laboratories....
Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.
Our culture war is a fight to the death. The barbarians are inside the gate, and they don’t listen to reason. Show them the same tolerance they show you — and then show them the door. In the case of A&E, what should happen is that they be boycotted till brought to their knees.
To their knees.
Unless we can rediscover virtue and muster total intolerance for the intolerable, our decline will be inexorable.