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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

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How has tolerance become a one-way street?
How has tolerance become a one-way street? (Photo: shutterstock.com)

The era of manufactured bigotry

As I said weeks ago, I fully support gay rights.

To me, there is no sensible reason to deny someone happiness, regardless of sexual preference. However, that is my personal opinion. I am entitled to it, but it isn’t more or less valuable than the opinion of anyone else. I accept that people may have social views that differ from my own, and I appreciate their right to have these views.

In this country, the Constitution affords us the freedom of religion. It allows people to exercise whatever religion they see fit. The Constitution grants someone of religious conviction to have views on homosexuality that oppose my own. It’s important to respect these views and tolerate differing opinions.

ESPN personality Chris Broussard recently gave his reasoning on opposing homosexuality, which was based on religious views. Predictably, he was grilled for these comments and he later tried to clarify those same remarks. While he’s entitled to his opinion, a public figure in a public forum certainly can expect repercussions from his employer for stating any controversial opinions.

The backlash made me wonder: exactly when did the same concept of public accountability suddenly apply to Joe SixPacks everywhere? When did simply having an opinion on homosexuality, based on guaranteed religious beliefs, become bigotry?

Bigotry comes down to a simple case of having an opinion vs. acting on that opinion. While these two may often go hand-in-hand, they aren’t mutually inclusive.

If the Constitution says we can freely practice religion and some of the teachings maintain an anti-homosexual view, then we can’t attempt to suppress those opinions simply because we disagree with them. Calling someone a bigot is attempting to suppress an opinion through negative connotations. Nobody wants to be called a bigot.

It’s the right of members of that church to have viewpoints that oppose homosexuality, as is having an opinion based on their religious beliefs. Until the church or a member acts upon that opinion, it is simply just that: an opinion.

A recent development is for many liberals to try to equate race rights to gay rights. That is a mistake. A quick peek at the Constitution will reveal that only one of these groups has specific protected rights. Some may say that the easiest thing to do is add an amendment. But with having public opinion at a roughly 50-50 split on just gay marriage, that is a tall task.

How have we gotten to the point where 50% of the American public can be labeled as bigots for simply having a differing opinion that lacks action? How has tolerance become a one-way street?

The media has been pushing gay rights for 18 months. Obama himself was forced to "evolve" before he was ready, thanks to comments from Joe Biden. "Evolving" is all the rage among liberals. Magically "evolving" allows anyone to distance themselves from previous opinions or actions. How convenient.

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton had to "evolve" to stay relevant in the liberal television empire. Most political pundits did this out of personal political necessity, not in the interests of fair treatment for all. I find it interesting that the leaders located in minority churches, that oppose gay rights, aren’t called bigots by their white liberal political allies. The most ironic part is someone that has "evolved" calling their political rivals a bigot for merely having the same opinion they did just five years ago.

I can’t really blame the media for getting in a tizzy over a non- story. After getting obliterated by the Tea Party in the gun debate, they’ll take any easy win they can get right now. Even if this means celebrating a "hero" no one could identify outside of NBA circles until Monday morning. This whole thing isn’t about personal freedom, but rather about scoring political points among the electorate. In truth, if Collins just wanted to be treated like everyone else, he would’ve released a one paragraph press release.

Personally, I don’t understand the attraction to media sensationalism. I could care less what Jason Collins does in his own bedroom. If he can’t score, defend or rebound, he’s out of a job in the NBA. We need quit elevating athletes and stop looking to professional sports as some sort of moral compass in our lives.

One of the true downfalls of our society is putting professional athletes on pedestals and then declaring them heroes. We don’t elevate strangers in our own everyday lives. Yet, when it comes to athletes, we do this consistently. We don’t know these people!

Finally, if gay rights were a conservative issue, would anyone in the media be discussing Jason Collins this week?

I think I know the answer to that question.

Talkbacks

fetlarpo | May 6, 2013 at 5:51 p.m. (report)

I don't recall Martina Navratilova getting a lot of flak for coming out. in the 1980's she was a competitor who was fun to watch. Who is this basketball player and what did he really do that was so heroic. Is this just because he is not only gay but black as well? Congrads, you came out now go play ball.

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littletinyfish | May 6, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. (report)

35524 Isn't voting to take away, or suppress rights, an act of bigotry then? This is why it's difficult to accept homophobia as "just an opinion" since that opinion often leads to bigoted actions.

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