Tolerance, and how atheists still can’t win.

Dan Savage is in hot water thanks to some statements he made during a anti-bullying speech.  The two things most complained about were the following statements

We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people… the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things.

And, when some of the students decided to walk out, presumably because they were Christian:

It’s funny, as someone who is the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back

Now, while I think his statements are factually correct, in context, I think he may have gone a bit too far, especially since these were high school students but it is not as if Savage has hid any of his ideas ever, and he did apologize for the “pansy-assed” statement, which I think was the correct thing to do.

However, I have read several responses to this that reminded me of a post Greta Christina wrote a few years ago entitled how atheists can’t win.

A lot of Christians who comment on this seem certain of two things:

1. Christianity and Christians are not the cause of the bullying of gay children, when people cite the bible or their Christian upbringing as reason for this behavior they are not “real” Christians.

2. Dan Savage “bullied” those children because he is godless, liberal, horrible, possibly communist, hates Christians, etc.

Now, I don’t always agree with Savage, but he is human, and not perfect, people get angry or overreact.  So why are Christians so quick to blame the failures or imperfections on our atheism but Christianity gets a free pass when ever a Christian does something wrong?

If we attack the unethical teachings found in the bible we get accused of being narrow minded bigots AND fighting for a world in which there are no moral values where anything goes.

One of the more interesting things I read while going through the comment sections of the articles on this is something that I can no longer find, but was a Christian basically saying that it is not bullying to tell gay people they are living a sinful lifestyle because it is the truth and because they have a civil right to offer there opinion on the subject and don’t like it when liberals try to silence their opinion.

I actually mostly agree with this, the thing I find funny is that when Christians say that gay people are behaving immorally or say they shouldn’t be given the right to marry they get offended when we push back by telling us they are excising their right to free speech, but when we exercise that same right to say we think THEY are the immoral ones we get accused of being bullies if not outright accused of being agents of the devil bent on destroying society.

Many of the statements by Christians on this issue reveal a very deep seated fear that their view on this is being increasingly marginalized, they cannot voice their opinions about homosexuality and gay marriage without getting criticized for it.  I will actually admit that this is a valid concern.  The problem is that I don’t think that it is meaningful to refer to most of this criticism as bullying, unless you are of the opinion that telling anyone they are wrong about anything EVER is tantamount to bullying.

Let me give you an example, it will no doubt offend fundamentalists but lets look at racists.  There are, in this country today, still people around who think that interracial marriage is bad.  Like it or not there are still active chapters of the KKK in this country, but if one of them was employed as a teacher would we allow them to tell students that interracial marriage is bad?  We would not.  No doubt, if you are a racist you may feel that your views on this issue are marginalized in the U.S. of today, and you would be right.  After all, laws against interracial marriage were declared unconstitutional in the 1960’s.

The point is that our cultural mores change over time and it is not unexpected that people who were once in the majority find their views no longer accepted by culture.  People criticizing those views does not equal a violation of your rights nor does it amount to bullying necessarily.  This is why I find much of what Christians say on this so absurd.  Others criticize them for their views and we are bigots.  However, when they not only criticize homosexuals, atheists and others they also actively lobby for laws that limit the rights of those people they are just defending their way of life or “telling the truth.”

Meanwhile, the accusations are flying and usually look a bit like this one I found here:

It’s amazing how the secular, leftwing liberals like this clown who claim to promote “tolerance” and “anti-bulling” are the most anti-tolerant, close minded and hypocritical of them all

Now I agree that savage went to far, and probably lost his temper a bit.  However, even if he had not apologized, to describe him as the “most anti-tolerant” is rather crazy.  In a world where women are being stoned to death for wearing the wrong clothing in some countries, or where Uganda is trying to pass a bill which would make homosexual behavior punishable by death to refer to Dan Savage as the worst offender of tolerance there ever was because he called a couple of high school students a name is plainly absurd.
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