Catholics, adoption, intolerance, and non-acceptance

A friend recently made a post on Facebook where I felt she did not distinguish between intolerance and non-acceptance. I’ve written about the issue before, so I naturally responded. I think it’s more than a mere semantics issue: If we conflate intolerance with non-acceptance, we bring everything into a false equivalence, often causing us to overlook actual issues of intolerance. Let’s take the issue of Catholic adoption agencies in Illinois:

Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money.

This is blatant intolerance. Rather than continue placing orphaned children into loving homes, these Catholics are actively seeking to impede the rights of others by way of shutting everything down. If they weren’t legally bound, there is no doubt they simply wouldn’t allow gay adoptions at all – ya know, since that’s the sort of intolerance they had been practicing for decades.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, look at the gall of these people:

“In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., a civil and canon lawyer who helped drive the church’s losing battle to retain its state contracts for foster care and adoption services.

I suppose the Bishop is technically right. No one is willing to tolerate his bigotry, so that is itself a form of intolerance. Of course, this is nothing more than a caveat: Intolerance is unacceptable except where it has a compelling reason. I think that much is implied, assumed, and understood. The Bishop is trying to exploit an unspoken yet implicit issue in order to gain pity for discriminating Catholics. It’s pathetic.

It should be obvious to any thinking person that this really isn’t a matter of mere semantics. If we’re going to allow people to run around, without challenge, claiming they are facing intolerance, as if connotations and implied meaning have no place in language, then real issues of intolerance – such as gays not being allowed to adopt – will have far less impact in the public mind when they are identified and pointed out: the dilution of language is always the dilution of meaning.

via Friendly Atheist.

Repost: Non-acceptance and intolerance

I am reposting a something I wrote from a couple of years ago because it seems that people – and by that I mean stupid conservatives – don’t seem to get the simple distinction between non-acceptance and intolerance. What makes this especially interesting is that most of these people are so-called libertarians, so one would think they would get it: there is a difference between not liking something and preventing someone from doing or believing something one does not like. But then, libertarianism is just a fancy word for the economically greedy nowadays.

Here is the post.

Time and again I find myself coming across people who think they’re making some grand point when they call me (or those who share my views) intolerant. It is utterly evident that these people have no working definition of “intolerance”. They are completely unable to make even the simplest of distinctions (which fits with why they tend to be conservative).

The most common instance of this has to do with same-sex marriage. It’s a definitional fact that those who oppose same-sex marriage are bigots. They deny that marriage is a right for all and base their conclusions on a lack of acceptance for homosexuality. This lack of acceptance, though wholly ignorant and pathetic, is legally and morally acceptable on some level because it does not infringe on the rights of others. However, the conclusions based on that lack of acceptance are morally reprehensible and (more relevantly to government) legally unsound. They are non-acceptance turned intolerance. And intolerance is the cornerstone of bigotry.

With that in mind, it should be obvious that those in favor of same-sex marriage are not intolerant, even if they think homosexuality is wrong. The time when it is appropriate to describe someone as intolerant is also the time when it is appropriate to use the word “bigot”, such as with anti-same-sex marriage people. They have infringed upon a person’s rights.

It can’t be helped that the word “bigot” is perfectly suited for the subject, but there seems to be some confusion with its use. The word itself does not equal intolerance. No one is infringing upon anyone’s rights or freedoms or liberties. No one is forcing Catholics (the bigoted driving force behind Maine’s recent bigotry) to accept anything. More over, no one is forcing anyone to do or believe anything whatsoever which infringes upon anything remotely important (i.e., rights, freedoms, liberties). Calling a bigot a bigot and not letting them get their bigoted way is not intolerance.

The confusion here is mind-boggling. It’s as if people have no ability to distinguish simple concepts. What’s more, when non-acceptance shows up as a lack of respect, people further believe there is intolerance afoot. Puh-lease. If I say, for instance, that the belief that God created the Universe in the middle of the well-established civilization of the Sumerians is, in fact, a very stupid thing to think, I am not being intolerant. Where have I infringed upon anyone’s rights? Where have I stopped someone from having the freedom to hold such a stupid thought? The answer is that I have not done that. It’s simply that I, as well as most educated people, cannot give deference to such silly things. That’s a lack of acceptance, not intolerance.

I get angry when…

Via another blog, I have come across an old post by Greta Christina that explains so-called atheist anger. You should read the whole post.

I get angry when believers accuse atheists of being intolerant for saying things like, “I don’t agree with you,” “I think you’re mistaken about that,” “That doesn’t make any sense,” “I think that position is morally indefensible,” and “What evidence do you have to support that?”

Except instead of being called intolerant, the charge is usually “closed-minded” or even “bigoted”, the latter of which is a massive misunderstanding of what bigotry is.

Non-acceptance and intolerance

Time and again I find myself coming across people who think they’re making some grand point when they call me (or those who share my views) intolerant. It is utterly evident that these people have no working definition of “intolerance”. They are completely unable to make even the simplest of distinctions (which fits with why they tend to be conservative).

The most common instance of this has to do with same-sex marriage. It’s a definitional fact that those who oppose same-sex marriage are bigots. They deny that marriage is a right for all and base their conclusions on a lack of acceptance for homosexuality. This lack of acceptance, though wholly ignorant and pathetic, is legally and morally acceptable on some level because it does not infringe on the rights of others. However, the conclusions based on that lack of acceptance are morally reprehensible and (more relevantly to government) legally unsound. They are non-acceptance turned intolerance. And intolerance is the cornerstone of bigotry.

With that in mind, it should be obvious that those in favor of same-sex marriage are not intolerant, even if they think homosexuality is wrong. The time when it is appropriate to describe someone as intolerant is also the time when it is appropriate to use the word “bigot”, such as with anti-same-sex marriage people. They have infringed upon a person’s rights.

It can’t be helped that the word “bigot” is perfectly suited for the subject, but there seems to be some confusion with its use. The word itself does not equal intolerance. No one is infringing upon anyone’s rights or freedoms or liberties. No one is forcing Catholics (the bigoted driving force behind Maine’s recent bigotry) to accept anything. More over, no one is forcing anyone to do or believe anything whatsoever which infringes upon anything remotely important (i.e., rights, freedoms, liberties). Calling a bigot a bigot and not letting them get their bigoted way is not intolerance.

The confusion here is mind-boggling. It’s as if people have no ability to distinguish between intolerance and non-acceptance. What’s more, when non-acceptance shows up as a lack of respect, people further believe there is intolerance afoot. Puh-lease. If I say, for instance, that the belief that God created the Universe in the middle of the well-established civilization of the Sumerians is, in fact, a very stupid thing to think, I am not being intolerant. Where have I infringed upon anyone’s rights? Where have I stopped someone from having the freedom to hold such a stupid thought? The answer is that I have not done that. It’s simply that I, as well as most educated people, cannot give deference to such silly things. That’s a lack of acceptance, not intolerance.