A Free and Tolerant Society cannot Tolerate Intolerance

Thank you David for a thoughtful response. You raise many interesting issues.

My way of looking at a lot of this issues is influenced by what Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh said: “A tolerant society cannot tolerate intolerance”. He was murdered for his criticism of fundamentalist Islam. He was raising an issue that had become hot in the Netherlands. The country struggled with the contradiction of being a famously liberal and free society while trying to accomodate and respect the traditions, values and customs of a large influx of conservative religious immigrants.

We see a similar challenge in my native Norway. Conservative religious immigranst with extremely traditional views on women, does not fit well with a very gender equal focused society. To what degree should we allow people to treat women as second class citizens, based on the excuse that their religous views must be tolerated?

My point is that a free society cannot tolerate the propagation of any idea. Imagine if democracy allowed parties promoting dictatorship to run for elections. You cannot have the freedom to undermine freedom.

So the question is; is it wrong for a company to promote their views on society? Would you hold the same condemnation if, say, the CEO of McDonalds proudly supported Gay Marriage?

To be clear I don’t know the Chic-Fil-A case well. Assuming it is as you describe, I would not have denied the restaurant. That is wrong to do. However that does not make it appropriate of the CEO to speak out against gay marriage or the chain or CEO to fund anti-gay organizations.

As I’ve tried to allude to above, not all expressions are created equal. Should a free and tolerant society promote intolerant expressions? How would you feel if the next CEO of Chic-Fil-A was a muslim and funded and promoted groups advocating that women should wear a burka, not be allowed to drive or vote? Like speaking out against gay marriage, these are expressions aimed at limiting the freedom of a group of people in society. Hence it is something I think a free, libeal and tolerant society should speak out against. That is very different from speaking in favor of gay marriage, which is promoting the freedom of a marginalized group.

I don’t think Christians have a right to be offended by that, any more than Muslims have a right to be offended by women wearing a short skirt. In a secular democratic country, I think it is highly inappropriate to advocate for a policy based on your religious views. The laws of the land should be secular to cater to all inhabitants regardless of faith.

Their views on LGBT are far more harsh than Christians. Which makes the Left’s attack on the Christian right, while supporting Islam, mildly ironic.

I think that is a more complicated issue. In Europe which has had more experience with larger muslim populations, the debate has been quite different. The left has criticized Islam for a long time. The cartoon controversity about satirizing Islam, was not perpetuated by right wing groups. In my native Norway, there was a big debate about Islam many years ago due to the attempted assasination of William Nygaard, the publisher of “Satanic Verses”. Genetialia mutilation of Somali women has been strongly opposed on the left in my native Norway.

The debate on Islam has been complicated these last years, because the political far right has started to masquerade their verbal attacks on muslims as criticism of Islam. Legitimate criticism of Islam is being packaged with a general hate message towards muslims.

Hence critcism of Islam by the left has become a complicated matter. One does not want to become useful idiots for the far right. I would feel the same way about Christians. If people started quoting passages in the bible to argue why Christians are lesser people and should not be allowed into Norway, then I would shift my focus from attacking Christianity as a religion to defending the rights of Christians to be accepted into Norwegian society.

It is a delicate thing to criticize the religion of a marginalized group in any society. I personally think that Islam is one of the worst of all major religions. Second worst is Christianity. I have most favorable impression of Buddism, but I am opposed to all religion. Still I try to avoid stating this, because it is highly misleading in most contexts. Most religious people are thankfully much better people than their religion. The Bible says you should stone disobedient children, yet no Christian I know of would do that. Likewise there are horrible passages in the Koran which the great majority of muslims would never get behind. It is legitimate to criticize a religion, but one should be careful about criticizing people for the religion they adhere to.

As to being Gay vs. being Christian in those cities. I was talking about institutional power, not individual homophobia. The mayor is the head of the government and directs it’s policies. Just like the President does for the Federal Government. Want to talk about how one man has changed the face of the Nation? Same with a mayor, except it is only a city. Hence, at that time, the institution of city government was, and presumably still is, more favorable to LGBT than to traditional Christians.

While the decision on Chic-Fil-A was wrong (assuming I got an accurate picture of the situation), I don’t think one can judge the general situation of a whole group of people based merely on the experience of a single CEO. His experience cannot be used to generalize the experience of hundreds of thousans of people.

E.g. if a single gay person gets treated bad by the government, I don’t think that can necessarily be used to argue that it is fundamentally anti-gay. You need to look at wider trends.

The head of a government is of course important, but any realistic analysis of what it is like living in a society, must include the unwritten laws, biases and experiences. There is no law on the books in the US today which says blacks should be descriminated against. Yet police discrimination against blacks in the US is institutionalized. Read about the experience of a white lawyer in New York, trying to get arrested for minor crimes blacks usually get arrested for. Black arrested weekly for tresspassing at their own workplace so police can meet their arrest quotas. Established norms and traditions in any organization can often be far more powerful than whatever power the person at the top wields.

That aside, it does not help when BLM protests the death of a Michael Brown, but stay silent when someone of another race, who is actually innocent, is shot.

I think that is unfair criticism. BLM is an organization specifically created to target discrimination against blacks. Why should they be expected to speak out against wrong doing against any race?

One must also distinguish between random individual occurances and clear patterns. BLM is about protesting a pattern of police gunning down unarmed blacks. Had this been isolated instances, there would have been no need for BLM. So unless these other people shot, represent a pattern of discrimination against the group they belong to, I don’t think that is an issue for BLM.

Personally I think police violence in the US, is something that ought to be discussed in general. The chance of getting shot dead by American police is 100x that of the UK e.g. However it seems to be an issue Americans are not willing to discuss. Every time I’ve tried to raise it I’ve only seen hand waving and excuses, and no will to actually deal with the problem. If Americans are fine with it, then what am I to say? I am not an American citizen, just somebody who think Americans deserve better.

But I could not attend the meeting unless I was Black. The exact wording was “We are a Black centered organization and all Black people are welcome.” I then reached out to clarify, stating that I was White and never got a response.

I think it is stretching it to call that racism. As I’ve alluded to before context matters. Refer to may example of saying you are proud to be white or proud to be black means totally different things. You cannot apply the same standards to a well respect majority group and a marginalized minority. In the North of Norway, we have an indiginous people called Sami. We gave them their own parliament, partly to make up for all our past wrong doings against them. I don’t think it would be discrimination if they don’t allow me as a Norwegian to be a representative of their parliament.

Should Germans be offended if Jewish Holocoust survivors don’t allow Germans into their Holocoust rememberance organization? There are are fewer years since blacks lived under segregation laws in the US. Some may find it harder than others to shake of the anger about what was done to their parents and ancestors. I would personally respect that blacks want to keep BLM a primarily black organization.

It is not like whites are loosing out for not having access. One cannot compare that to, e.g. being denied a job, harrassed by police etc due to the color of your skin.

So, from a position of ignorance, it could be perceived that Black Lives Matter More.

I think such a conclusion only makes sense if one was entirely clueless about Amrican society and history and believed whites and blacks had always been treated the same.

I mean it is in your quote, about racism. Racism is about superiority. I don’t see how a group of people coming together to fight against discrimination is an expression of superiority.

Comparing this to Rednecks, I have to wonder if it is not in many ways the same thing. As I pointed out before, Redneck is deeply insulting, so maybe people claim it as a form of ownership? I am not sure.

You can find American’s referring to themselves as a redneck. Nobody in Britain would refer to themselves as a Chav.

I do know that while being called gay, or black can gain you some form of respect outside of the community, at least in 2018

I don’t know about that. That feels like an overstatement. I live in a rather liberal country, and I have lived in the Netherlands for many years which is considered perhaps the most liberal country in the world with respect to gay rights. I have never encountered the attitude that being gay somehow earns extra respect.

Perhaps in tiny fringes among certain left wing intellectual elites it may be a sort of fashionable thing. I am thinking of authors, musicians, artists etc. But one cannot judge these people as representing the left at large.

I highly appriciate your style, these are important questions which ought to be discussed in a more civilized tone than they usually are. Thank you!

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Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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