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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Intolerance wears many faces these days

Last week Carrie Prejean, also known as Miss California, lost the Miss U.S.A. pageant because she committed the unthinkable crime--at least in Hollywood--of giving an honest answer to the politically charged topic of gay marriage.
"In my family, I … believe marriage should be between a man and a woman," she said. "No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."

Prejean's answer was neither hateful nor intolerant, but for these words she has been subjected to a litany of media backlash. Perez Hilton, the celebrity blogger judge that asked the question has gone on nothing less than a smear campaign on his blog site. Even Donald Trump, one of the owners of the pageant, said her answer "probably did cost her the crown." It seems that Hollywood media is tolerant to everyone except for those who agree with the majority of the Americans, including--ironically--California, that the definition of marriage that has been around since the beginning of human history should remain intact.

What's happened to Carrie Prejean over the past week has been nothing less than a media lynching for failing to toe the cultural elite party line. It's intolerance. Plain and simple. I'm sure that many of my politically conservative evangelical friends are upset--and for good reason. So am I. But let's get real for a minute. Without minimizing Prejean's pain (nor her heroism for standing up for her beliefs), it's likely that the former Miss California will get a hefty book deal out of this and will be a favorite in the evangelical speaking circuit for a long time to come. Meanwhile, over the past week, two eleven-year-old boys have hung themselves because of the merciless taunting by their peers for the perception that they were "gay."

These two situations are vastly different in degree, but they're not so different in kind. On the one hand, we have a woman that expressed a religious belief with political implications and the agents of intolerance splashed the blogosphere with hate speech. On the other hand, we have two dead boys because their perceived sexuality painted them as the other in the eyes of many.

For the record, there's no evidence that Carl Joseph Walker- Hoover or Jaheem Herrera were actually gay, but not that it should matter. Just as racial bullying is socially taboo nowadays, so should sexual orientation bullying, but too often school officials look the other way when a child is bullied over perceived sexual orientation. Unless we want more young boys hanging themselves, this is going to have to change--and Christians should be leading the way in this effort.

Sadly, it seems that Christian leadership is lacking these days. Nowhere is the culture war more evident than in the two mostly highly visible faces of American Christianity--the liberal face and the conservative face. While most theologically liberal Christians would likely side with the Hollywood-blogger-induced smear campaign against Carrie Prejean, theologically conservative Christians are some of the worst perpetrators of hate speech against gay people--just ask any gay person.

Here is where the problem lies. On both sides of the so-called culture war the definition of tolerance has been lost. Both sides seem to think that the word "tolerate" equals "condone." But the very definition of tolerance assumes genuine differences in beliefs and practices. Jesus was the most tolerant man to ever live. His entire life and ministry was characterized by pursuing genuine table fellowship with tax collectors, prostitutes, and drunkards, but that doesn't mean that Jesus condoned extortion, prostitution, and drunkenness. Jesus didn't condone their lifestyle, but He did affirm their humanity. For Jesus, every human being was--and is--infinitely valuable.

If Carry Prejean is a true Christian, and I have no reason to believe that she is not, then now would be the perfect time for her to speak up on behalf of young boys and girls across the nation harassed by bullies at school because of their perceived sexual orientation. Carry Prejean has a national platform. Tens of thousands of elementary and middle school children across the nation do not. They suffer in silence. It's time that the world sees real Christianity looks like. While the body count rises, the clock keeps ticking.

Perhaps Carrie Prejean will respond. Maybe she won't. It's likely that Carry Prejean will never even see this article. So if we don't see an anti-bully campaign from the former Miss California, let's not hold that against her, because the important thing is not how Carrie Prejean will respond. The important thing is how will you and I respond?

9 comments:

toby said...

great article. yes, you'll hear all day about people who are "intolerant" of homosexuality, but you rarely hear about it in terms of what it really is: _discrimination_ against those who are deemed "intolerant". it's ludicrous.

you're right, the freaking state of California voted against gay marriage. guess what?! majority rules. no offense to anyone, of course. :]

Steve Pardue said...

I'm not real sure why you state as fact, that she lost simply due to her statement on gay marriage. Not to mention (though you did not post her answer in total) her answer was a bit muddled. Her actual answer was:

"I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and in my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman – no offense to anyone out there – but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be, between a man and a woman."

First problem, we do NOT live in a land where we can "choose", only three states allow a choice for gay marraige. So, not exactly an informed response from the young lady.

Second problem, ". . . in my country and in my family I think that I believe. . ." Again, not a clear statement. It sort of reminds me of the young lady a year or two ago that made national headlines with a confused response.

I think I believe, really? OK.

Now, by stating as fact, (which no one can honestly say for sure) that she lost because of her statement, what are you saying about the young lady who won? Did she not deserve to win. And, did Miss Calaifornia deserve to win because she stands for traditional marriage?

I think making statments that something is a fact without actually having "the facts" is in itself, intolerance.

Did you think for one second, the judges may have thought the young lady who they chose as the winner actually deserved to win?

answersforseekers said...

Good point Steve. It isn't a fact that Carrie Prejean lost the crown due to her comment on gay marriage. Point well taken, though that doesn't derail the overall argument that Carrie Prejean was subjected to a litany of unwarranted media backlash.

Joseph Craig said...

Steve did you even read Aaron's article? And your line on intolerance and facts is laughable. Facts are she was asked a question and gave an honest answer only to be demonized and persecuted for her beliefs. Now if you could remove your hatred and intolerance for the young woman and re-read the article you should compliment Aaron for his stance for Carrie and the Christian community to lead an effort to put a stop to those being bullied for their perceived sexual orientation. It is just like Aaron has implied and that is both sides are missing the point including you. As Perez gave Miss California advice how she should have answered the question I opt to give you advice as well. Said advice is "Well Aaron I don't think you can make a 100 percent fact that Miss California lost because of her answer, BUT you bring up some great points and I appreciate you taking the time to address bullying and applaud you for calling on Carrie and other Christians to take a stand against this." This would have been a better response IMHO.

Aaron another great article, I dont make it to your blog as much anymore but its always refreshing to read it. I am really proud of you and everything your standing for. I really apreciate how are not just making this a "right wing" (for lack of better words) christian issue. Yes I may find my beliefs more along the lines of Carrie Prejean, but "intolerance" and hatred of any kind can not be a part of our beliefs as Christians. For we are all made in the image of God and for that we should all try to treat each other better, no matter our beliefs or differences. Carrie and other Christians out there I hope you guys take Aaron's article and this opportunity to heart so that we can use this moment to evaluate how we can be more like the example that Christ set.

Steve Pardue said...

Joseph,

So I came accross as hateful and intollerant? I was only trying to make the point (which you conceeded) that not you, not Aaron, not Bill O'Riley, Not Shawn Hannity, no one can say, nor should they say, she lost because of that one particular reason. You just can't say that and consider yourself as being fair minded or even credable. Because you simply don't know for sure.

I did not defend Prez Hilton (who would?) I did not critize the young lady for her belief. I was indeed trying to be nutral on the subject and simply interject that one should not make blanket statments as to the validity of what they do not have first-hand knowledge.

You are correct, I could have offered the respect and admiration that Aaron deserves for [the rest] of his well meaning and well intended article. I do so now.

However, I stand by everything I said before. I do not read left wing blogs or websites (nor right wing) but I can imagine the far left DID indeed "demonize" her. But, since I have not read any. . . again I can't say for sure. I can't state that as fact.

I was only made aware of the whole mess when I saw it on Bill O'Riley. Having seen that, with my own eyes, I can say without doubt, she was being used by Bill to make it political. And to "demonize" the left.

"Facts are she was asked a question and gave an honest answer only to be demonized and persecuted for her beliefs."

After reading Aarons entire article, I was just giving an honest response? And, in so doing, you call me hateful and intolerant. I guess we're both laughing.

And still you, who's so "fair minded," had no thoughts on my comment concerning the young lady who did win.

Joseph Craig said...

Steve first off i want to apologize for calling you hateful and intolerant and also want to give your props for posting Aarons' article on your website. However I do believe you were still taking some shots at Miss California and Aaron with your statement on facts (or lack there of) and tolerance, not to mention the question of why did she loose. Even in your response to me you started with that same premise. So with that said I dont know why she lost and nor do I care honestly. The judges have the right to vote which ever way they want and that is fine with me. Also on a side note I agree 100 percent with the last part of your first response and the winner.

While I dont think Miss California is a victim per se I do think she has been mistreated and would have also called out anyone else who would have said she was (outside of bodily harm). Paul in the new testament didnt consider himself a victim nor did Jesus Christ when he was being persecuted and neither should we.

I dont watch much tv and everything I heard and read was from Perez Hilton's site (reader comments)when I heard about it on the radio. Also I really find it hard to believe that you dont know what others in GLBT or left leaning community are saying about her. I mean come on man you run a website for the GLBT community. But honestly if you say you dont know I have no choice but to believe you. I guess no one is laughing now.

Hope you give Aaron's book a read when it comes out.

Zeke said...

Aaron,

I want to commend your zeal for human rights & exhortation for Christians to emulate Jesus' love of all people. I concur with the need for Christians to be less self-absorbed & be far more others oriented, teaching my kids to apply the acrostic "JOY" to consider Jesus, Others, Yourself in priority.

That said, I take issue with some assertions you made. First, Carrie is NOT the "former" Miss CA so you should edit your blog to correct it.

Second, to imply that most Christians are biggoted to gays is an insult to me. I personally live next to 2 lesbian couples with adopted kids; my wife, kids, & I are praying for God's wisdom on how to love them as Jesus did without further repelling them from true Christian principles.

Third, the church spends far too little time speaking the truth in love regarding homosexuality. You equated racial biggotry with beliefs toward homosexuality. The two cannot be compared! One is genetic & the other is behavioral (read Romans 1 & other passages). To spend time telling kids "It's OK" is tantamount to telling kids their parents' drug abuse, infidelity, lying, tax evasion, etc are also OK. Homosexuality is clearly an abomination according to God, so I'll take His Word over any research poll or personal belief any day of the week.

That said, it is not Miss CA's job to tell kids to not be mean to kids of LGBT parents, any more than it is to not be mean PERIOD. Then again, is that part of her charter anyway?

Love means turning people to God, not making them comfortable in the midst of sin. I am not saying to NOT minister to kids of LGBT parents, but to ensure God's truth is spoken in love rather than some PC truth! That is ALL Ms CA would be permitted given the pageant experience & horribly unwise & unscrupulous people leading it.

Zeke said...

Steve Pardue,

It is a FACT that Ms CA lost the Ms USA title due to her answer. This was agreed by Ms CA, the ever detestable Perez Hilton, & Donald Trump (among others). Even Ms Moakler is gone as a result.

Suffice it to say the Christian community has been A LOT MORE GRACIOUS than the LGBT community in this episode. Shall we also cite the RIOTS which happened after Prop 8 WAS PASSED by a MAJORITY of CA voters? What will happen today now that the CA Supreme Court has UPHELD PROP 8?

I am thankful this situation erupted as it did so non-committal & apathetic people are increasingly forced to take a stand on this issue. Whether LGBT marriage ever becomes legal in CA or not, I hope the LGBT community can police itself to not act in the ways it has decried against other groups, and society at-large. A lot of respect gained has been lost due to antics of recent months. Intolerance by the LGBT community is not the "new tolerance."

I say this not out of hate or spite. I comment because I see MOST of the LGBT people on blogs being crude, biggotted, vulgar, reprehensible, & mean-spirited. If this represents the fringe element of the movement, it is a tremendously large fringe. Or, is it the mainstream, & the respectful ones are the fringe? Only time & behavior will tell...

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Zeke, I corrected the "former" Miss California part. Thank you for pointing that out.