Why I Refuse to Tolerate Your Intolerance

There’s been a lot of talk about intolerance lately. This most recent firestorm, of course, was set off by the entire Duck Dynasty debacle. In the wake of Phil Robertson’s comments, hundreds (if not thousands) of people have come to his defense, including Sarah Palin, this Alabama lawmaker, and a whole bunch of the usual suspects over here.

One of the comments that stuck with me, though, came from Bristol Palin. She said on her Patheos Blog

I hate how the LGBT community says it’s all about “love” and “equality.” However, if you don’t agree with their lifestyle, they spread the most hate. It is so hypocritical it makes my stomach turn. They need to learn how to respect others’ opinions and not just jump to the conclusion that everyone who doesn’t support homosexuality and gay marriage is homophobic.

Bristol Palin’s lack of ability to defend biblical values notwithstanding, Palin claims that when we speak out against anti-gay rhetoric, we’re not being tolerant by our own definition. 

Bristol, there’s not enough room on the internet to write about the many ways in which you’re wrong, but let’s start with some:

When you tell me that you don’t believe that I deserve the same rights to love that you do, you’re really telling me that my love is less valid than yours.

When you tell me that you're just repeating what the bible says, you’re hiding your hatred of me behind theology, and as a religious person, I resent your attempted monopoly of God.

When you tell me “the bible says we’re all sinners and none of us is perfect,” you are imposing your religion’s view of the world on me. You are, in your own words, “shoving your beliefs down my throat.” The only one that gets to call me a sinner is God, and that’s between me and him/her/it/them. Not you. And I refuse to believe that God created me to be a sinner.

I don’t have to accept your intolerance of me because it implies that you think I am less of a human being than you are. And yes, that’s the very definition of bigotry.

For an argument to have any chance at turning into a productive discussion, one in which participants can engage and learn from each other, there has to be a baseline of acceptance that each of the participants is equal. Your comments (and the comments of many, many others) show that you do not believe that GSD (gender and sexually diverse) people are on the same level as you. You look down upon us and you attempt to force your view of the world on us.

And I refuse to accept that. 

I recognize that the way in which you interpret your religion obligates you to subscribe to certain teachings and live your life according to them. I am glad that they give you comfort. But they’re yours, and yours alone. Your religion does not give you the right to impose your bigotry upon me, and I refuse to tolerate that.

Refusing to tolerate bigotry, however, is not a limitation of rights but a consequence of actions.  Bigotry is a choice, a behavior, a deliberate decision to impose your prerogatives on others without their consent.

And you say, “But you’re doing the same thing!”  It’s not the same thing.  Opposing bigotry is decent, humane, loving, productive, and a positive and preservative step for the species.  Being a bigot isn’t.  There is no argument in favor of bigotry that doesn’t rely on lies or dishonest interpretation of facts.



Robbie Medwed

Robbie Medwed began working with SOJOURN when it was known as The Rainbow Center as a volunteer in 2008. He served as chair of the TRC Advisory Board and as co-chair of Purim off Ponce (2010, 2011) before moving into his current role as Assistant Director, where he oversees SOJOURN's educational programming and outreach, including our award-winning workshops and training seminars. Robbie holds a master's degree in Jewish education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has written curricula and nationally-recognized inclusive programs for the Marcus JCC of Atlanta, BBYO, USY, Camp Ramah, the Jewish Teen Funders Network, Babaganewz, and JewishGPS. Robbie is also a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and cyclist. Robbie can be reached at robbie@sojourngsd.org.