Notice the slight play on words in my title?
Phil Robertson, patriarch and star of Duck Dynasty is not one to “duck controversy” when it comes to his Christian beliefs.
Of course, as the story unfolds, we discover how he can say whatever he wants in an interview as long as he doesn’t cross the sacred line by talking negatively about those who prefer homosexual sex. This is what got him into some trouble with the A&E Network.
It’s not controversial that the network distanced themselves from Robertson’s personal views. Most people could accept their right to do that. A&E, however, went too far when they put Robertson on “indefinite suspension.” This amounts to an intrusive effort to control Robertson’s personal liberty and free speech in what he says on his own time. And let’s be honest, there is no way that Robertson’s views could have surprised the network.
This means that they don’t care if he holds his view as long as he doesn’t talk about it — at least not publicly. Like others on this issue, they’re saying, “Keep it to yourself or keep it in your Church!” There is no safe place for publicly disagreeing with a homosexual lifestyle.
If A&E made their decision based on concerns about loss of business, I expect we will see them back pedal in the near future.
I agree with Al Mohler who said, “the controversy over Duck Dynasty sends a clear signal to anyone who has anything to risk in public life: Say nothing about the sinfulness of homosexual acts or risk sure and certain destruction by the revolutionaries of the new morality. You have been warned.”
I also agree with Russell Moore, “If the reports are true that the reality TV star’s suspension was due to his stated views on homosexuality then I hardly think silencing him can be called open-minded. In fact, it’s the sort of censorious cultural fundamentalism that is neither ‘progressive’ nor ‘pluralistic.’”
Listen, we should all be able to agree that the virtue of tolerance is necessary to protect civility in a diverse society. America is a nation of significant ethnic, religious, ideological and lifestyle diversity. Tolerance is not just “putting up with differences,” but truly respecting others despite differences.
Tolerance, as a virtue, shines most when people deeply disagree but treat each other with respect. Society suffers when people do not respect each other on lawfully permitted differences. Somewhere along the way, however, true tolerance was replaced with a counterfeit operating under the same name. The new version demands full agreement not respect. The results are eroding our freedoms.
Tolerance has become a strategy of power to control people rather than a virtue to promote civility.
On many issues the public largely feels like we are given a choice between agreeing with a set of politically approved ideas or being labeled intolerant, irrationally phobic or even a hateful bigot.
I am not suggesting that it’s easy to protect unity in the kind of diversity we have in our country. But we simply can’t promote unity by forcing everyone to see things one way under a threat of being demonized for disagreeing. I believe most people have had enough of this distortion of tolerance.
- Are you tired of being told what to think and say on certain issues?
- Do you feel forced to pretend you agree on politically correct sensitivity issues?
- Does tolerance feel more like a strategy to silence you than a virtue to free you?
- Are you tired of the sensitivity police trying to control what people say?
The practice of zero tolerance on narrowly defined sensitivity issues has resulted in a long list of absurd punishments — even of children in our schools. Hate laws are being used to enlist thought police to read motives where they do not exist. A growing number of people are being sued for following their long-held religious and moral convictions.
I am grateful to live in a country that has largely moved past the days of racial and gender sectarianism. We must protect people from discrimination based on matters of nature beyond their ability to control or change. I am not suggesting that we are completely victorious in these areas, but, like most people, I am tired of those who refuse to celebrate our advances out of a desire to be seen as victims to whom society is in debt.
We need a wake-up call to what’s happening in our country. Forced agreement on debatable issues threatens true tolerance and violates freedom. The virtue of tolerance functions where there is disagreement but respect. Intolerance forces people to pretend they have no differences.
Think about it.