America, the Intolerant

October 29, 2012

If there’s one virtue that is esteemed in our culture above all else, it’s tolerance.

And if there is one sin that is disdained above all else, it’s intolerance.

Intolerance gets many labels: hatred (never just hate, hatred), bigotry, or a different word for every group you apparently are intolerant of.

I think we can all agree that there is something wrong with our modern culture. And I have finally figured out what it is.

No matter what we say, what we preach, how we boast, we are not a tolerant people.  In fact, I would say modern America is experiencing one of its most intolerant times in our history.  Intolerance is running positively rampant.

And the source of all this intolerance?  It might be a little bit surprising.

Onward Christian Cheerleaders

There’s a story unfolding in Texas right now.  A school’s cheerleading squad is responsible for the paper banners that the football players tear through at the beginning of the games.  The girls decided it would be a great idea to paint some Bible verses on the banners.  No teacher told them to do it.  The school didn’t endorse it.  The girls just did it.

And now the “Freedom from Religion Foundation” (yes, it’s a real thing) is suing the school district.  The cheer squad (and the school) is countersuing, because the FFRF is trying to limit the girls’ freedom of speech and religion.

That’s America today.  This is the cause of our intolerance: we are too sensitive.

For years, we have been brainwashed that we need to be more sensitive about every little thing.  First, it birthed political correctness.  Then PC grew into a mutant.  Now, we are constantly fighting one another, in and out of court, because we are so sensitive to what everyone is doing.

You’ve Gotta Fight For Your Right…to Silence Everyone Else

Some people think there will be riots in the streets after the election.

I don’t know if that will happen.  But the fact that a good chunk of people believe it’s a possibility illustrates just how low our sensitivity has taken us.  America has passed the baton for 200 years and, save a civil war, has done so peacefully.

But today, I see people constantly refer to liberals / conservatives / Christians / atheists / whatever as having a “mental disease.”  Apparently, America’s mentally ill population (as diagnosed by all the armchair psychologists) is nearing 100%. People use incredibly hateful words for people who they do not know, nor understand.  We’re gearing up for Christmas soon, which is quickly becoming one of this country’s most divisive holidays.  If the election doesn’t kill us, maybe baby Jesus’ birthday will.

I think the cheerleaders should win the court case, but I also know Christians well enough to know that if the banner featured verses from the Koran, they would not be so supportive.

And I also know non-Christians well enough to believe that as soon as the cheerleaders win, there will be a bunch of over-sensitive people suddenly showing up at games with their own banners, pouting and whining that since you’re religion gets a banner, my religion should get a banner too!

He Hurt Me!

Modern Americans live in an extraordinary time and place.  Never before have opportunities been so available (not counting the down economy.)

But today, most Americans act like everything that everyone else says, does or thinks actually hurts them.  We don’t believe that our rights end where the next person’s begins.  We believe we have the duty to call where the next person’s rights end.

So we lash out at everyone else and say they have a mental disease (which is itself, intolerant of people with mental diseases, not that I’m being overly sensitive about it.)  People threaten to riot if they do not get their way.  We watch cable news and listen to talk radio, not because we want our thinking challenged, but because we are sitting in the choir and we want to be validated in what we already believe.  We want to be pandered to and have someone affirm that we are victims of everyone else, while they wipe the snot from our runny noses.  We all want to be in the majority, and have everyone else silenced, because we have been trained to be an ego-maniacal, intolerant culture of crybaby wussies.

You do not have the right to not be offended in America.  That’s what makes it America.

People who are not like you are not mentally ill.

No one is hurting you.  Christians aren’t hurting you.  Gays aren’t hurting you.  No one is hurting you.

Sensitivity is not always a good thing.  Make a resolution to stop letting everything bother you.  You’ll be happier.

What’cha think?  Could America use a good healthy dose of insensitivity?

22 responses to America, the Intolerant

  1. Meh. This is a topic that comes up on sites like this ad nauseum, and it always pretty much boils down to the same arguments being made by the same people.

    “You’re intolerant!”

    “No, YOU’RE intolerant, because if you were really tolerant, you’d tolerate my right to be intolerant!”

    Am I the only one who finds the whole thing tiresome?

  2. Oh, and cheerleaders making Bible-verse banners for football games in TEXAS? Someone down there was really shocked by this? :)

  3. This is all part of our victim society. Bad things happen There are mean people. You’re not gonna like everybody and not everybody is gonna like you. Get over it. While we’re at it, the world does NOT revolve around you kid.

    No you don’t have to like, approve, etc of anything you don’t want to. You can even tell me so. But there are and will be times we will have to agree to disagree. Unfortunately, our society has reached a point where everybody must agree on everything all the time. Everybody has to be a winner (don’t tell the kids that play soccer that they will lose in life later). If you’re not a winner, you become a whiner.

  4. Try being a conservative and giving a speech at one of our “tolerant and open minded” universities. You’ll soon find out just how “tolerant” these bastions of enlightenment really are.

    (PS- You will have to have security to and from and during your speech)

  5. I have also noticed that our culture preaches tolerance but is nowhere close to it. As Christians, I believe we should be tolerant – not as a result of our culture but as a result of our faith.

  6. And one problem is that “tolerance” doesn’t even really mean tolerance anymore. Today, it means that we have to agree with, accept, and like people all the time, no matter what. And that’s just impossible.

  7. Okay, so I’ve been thinking about this some more this morning—

    Now, I went to a liberal arts college with all that entails, politically. And, yeah, the whole hippy-dippy, “affirming every single lifestyle except a conservative Christian one” atmosphere used to drive me nuts. So I think I can understand where a lot of the comments are coming from.

    But what has me concerned is this—despite all the stupid lawsuits and the hair-trigger accusations of “bigotry” and pwecious feewings being wounded, we still live in a country where real injustice still actually happens. There are still instances of people getting unfairly screwed over for stupid reasons. Racism still exists. Sexism still exists. The strong still prey on the weak and they still get away with it a good bit of the time.

    What I worry about happening (and frankly, what I’m concerned *has* happened based on some of the comments I’ve read here and elsewhere) is that the excesses of political correctness will cause Christians to harden their hearts so much that they won’t recognize a real injustice when they see it. Or that when they do see it, they’ll be more likely to just dismiss it with a “Bad things happen–get over it” than actually show a little mercy and do anything about it.

    If someone would like to prove me wrong, please do. I’d love to hear it.

    • It’s a fine line between hard-heartedness and indifference. Do I become so paranoid about hurting anothers’ feelings that I just stop caring, or do I become bitter because everyone seems to take offense to everything? For every Christian who cried “persecution!” over the Chick-Fil-A flap there is another ready to boycott Target for not saying “Merry Christmas”.

      Jesus loved unconditionally. But he did not tolerate religiosity while calling sinners to repentence. When we get caught up in the culture wars we lose sight of this.

    • Try being a minority, or gay, or Muslim…From my experience raising minority children with an extended middle class white christian family, i have often experienced the intolerance and been told I am too sensative when I have the audacity to speak up for my children. We are to turn the other cheek…not ask others to turn the other cheek when we pop them one.

      Thanks for your comments Abby.

  8. I just wrote on the hot topic of homosexuality and religion and I’m exhausted. The comments did surprise me in their tolerance though – most of them.

  9. One of the themes running through the “Hunger Games” trilogy is how the media portrays a situation vs. the actual situation. Let’s face it, the only news that gets in papers and on TV is sensational news, demonstrating people on the fringes spewing verbal garbage to prove how ignorant and depraved the other side is. I have managed to have discussions with people who don’t agree with me without name calling or accusing them and I have seen discussions here and other boards where the vast majority of comments are respectful even when they disagree. And you are masterful in extinguishing vitriolic comments by simply refusing to reply to them. I have learned a lot from you in this area.

    In fact, the only place where I read offensive comments involving name-calling and other vulgarities involves news or news-related web sights. Of course, I don’t have a lot of time to read many blogs, so maybe I lead a sheltered existence in the world of internet communication.

    This article is definitely a good reminder for me to live Proverbs 19:11 and teach my kids the same.

  10. BOOM! This might be your best post, yet. Thank you, Matt. Everyone needs to read this and take it to heart.

  11. Right. On. The. Mark.

  12. I was just thinking about something along these lines the other day.

    People want to get crazy because somebody talks about Jesus or has a few bible scriptures laying around, but when the person in the cubicle next to your starts cursing it’s okay?

  13. Actually, now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure that the few times Jesus actually *said* something resembling “Suck it up and get over it”, it was directed at His followers.

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

  14. I was struck by a thought today based on a couple of other blogs I read: Maybe we are becoming “America the Intolerant” because we are forgetting how to treat each other with love, grace and mercy. Without grace and mercy, what is left? Judgement. And judgement is the root of intolerance, isn’t it? okay, I admit, it isn’t a new thought, but as I struggle with my own thin skinnedness and seeing it (and dealing with it) in my kids, it is a humbling thought that maybe our problem is that we don’t REALLY understand grace enough, or forget about it.

  15. Tolerance is a myth whose rules change daily.

  16. i read an interesting piece recently called The Distress of the Privileged, addressing the concerns of formerly majority folks (white, men, straight, christian) that their “edge” is being eroded. they/we perceive that we are “losing ground” and feel threatened by that. this is, to a certain degree, understandable.

    but equality is not a zero-sum game. some privileges will be lost–(some privileges should be lost)–but our rights should be equal. i shouldn’t have it better/easier just because i’m straight, white, christian etc. losing privilege (unfair advantage) is uncomfortable. it’s uncomfortable to have to pay attention to the needs and concerns of people who have not traditionally been on our radar–people of color, lgbt folks–and to realize that some of the rights, freedoms, and privileges we take for granted are not the same across the board. access, opportunity, and experience vary radically in america.

    privileged whining may reflect legitimate frustration and discomfort, but it is not in the same ballpark as as the pain of injustice, silencing, and oppression–pain we may know nothing about. i don’t believe the answer is to become less sensitive but better attuned to the needs, fears, and experiences of other people, especially those who have been traditionally marginalized. women who have been raped. girls who have been abused. gay kids being bullied. gay parents. people of color. transgender folks. low income communities. muslims and other religious minorities. many people are hurting, and we could be the hands and feet of Jesus.