What Is Tolerance?

To The Reader’s Forum:

After Michael Sam (the first openly gay athlete to be drafted into the NFL) kissed his boyfriend on national television, many people expressed discomfort, including another player who was consequently assigned to “sensitivity training.” It’s clear that NFL players will likely be prohibited from expressing any discomfort they may feel with their new situation. They will be silenced and forced to conform to a set of values decided by others, or else be indoctrinated by sensitivity training, all in the name of tolerance.

Yet the people of tolerance were silent during the continuous mocking of Tim Tebow. His Christian faith did not make the special list of protected lifestyles. Therefore no sensitivity training was necessary.

This begs the question: what is tolerance?

Brendan Eich, CEO of Mozilla, was recently discovered to have supported traditional marriage.

He subsequently lost his job because his personal values did not line up with those of the company. Is that tolerance?

David and Jason Benham had their HGTV show cancelled after protests were made regarding their Christian faith. Despite all of the representation HGTV has given to homosexual couples, supplementing them with Christians apparently created too much diversity.

Christian photographers Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin, as well as bakery owner Jack Phillips, were forced into legal battles after refusing to participate in gay weddings. Yet shouldn’t people have the right to not participate in a ceremony that goes against their faith? Why wouldn’t the gay community, so widely known for their promotion of tolerance, want to respect people’s religious beliefs, rather than force their particular agenda on them?

Such selective tolerance is just intolerance in disguise. And it’s a problem that’s being overlooked by too many people. Tolerance, by definition, is a multi-way street. It allows both Michael Sam and Tim Tebow to be who they are, but also allows others to express discomfort or disagreement. It allows gay couples to marry, but also allows Christian businesses to not participate in the ceremonies. It allows both Christians and homosexuals to have TV shows. Tolerance is about coexistence, not silencing those on the other side.

Yet the people who speak about tolerance the most are usually the ones who engage in it the least. Their understanding of tolerance is that you must conform to their hand-picked, politically correct values, or face consequences. I guess I never associated the word “tolerance” with narrow-mindedness, conformity and force. Someone should notify Webster of the new definition.

Rick Hammond,