Low tolerance

>> Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Carrie Prejean is the gift that keeps giving, it seems. I had no blog entry for today, and now I have one, and one that allows me to use another bikini photo, one that is more flattering to Miss California (I have to confess--and I realize some of you will think I'm crazy--I'm just not that into the generic bronzed blonde, sorry). Maybe Ms. Prejean should get her own tag? Nah.

Some thanks is also due to Dave, our regular commenter under the nom de plume Leanright, since this post started as a response to a comment he left under yesterday's post, and started getting longer and more serious until it merited (or at least justified) a full post. Don't worry, Dave--I think you'll be unscathed. The pertinent part of Dave's comment (there's more, but this is what opened a door) read:

We can stop throwing around INTOLERANCE to discredit some group. Both side of each issue show intolerance. Perhaps Prejean is "intolerant" of gays and the issue of marriage (although her answer was stated as HER opinion and not an attack), But Hilton is also "intolerant" due to his criticism, NOT of her opinions, but of HER in general. Calling her a "bitch" is an attack. SHE did not "attack" any individual; she merely answered a question she was asked with honesty. Perhaps to win the crown next time, "NOT" standing up for her beliefs would be the best course of action. You may not agree with her, but you can't fault her for expressing what she feels about the issue.

Believe it or not, I'm not necessarily fond of using "intolerant" as a pejorative label. But that's because I think there are some things that shouldn't be tolerated at all or at least not very much, including the kind of vapidity characterized by Ms. Prejean. There are extremists on the left for whom "toleration" appears to be a mantra that stifles thought, but the fact is that some things simply are intolerable. There's a famous story told of General Sir Charles James Napier's reaction to the Hindu custom of sati, and while I'm loathe to have to agree with an imperialist Brit stomping all over a subjugated indigenous people (and advocating capital punishment while he does it!), I have some sympathy for the sentiment he's said to have expressed:

You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

...because I have no personal doubt in my mind that a respect for a woman's right to exist as an autonomous human being trumps whatever right Indians may have to their religion or culture. And lest one think this is a white Westerner kind of bigotry: I have no objection to prosecuting American Christian cultists who allow their kids to die by choosing prayer over science and find child abuse statutes that exempt such doddering malfeasance on religious tolerance grounds to be morally indefensible and utterly repugnant.

Anyway, back on topic: Ms. Prejean has a right to her opinion, and a right to express it; I have a right to call her opinion vapid and worthless. I'm not going to call her "intolerant" because being "intolerant" isn't necessarily a bad thing--but I will call her stupid, and stupid is necessarily awful. To the extent her opinion might even be at least colorably... defensible, for lack of a better word, she doesn't even really defend it, expressing herself in confused terms befitting a five-year-old.

Here's what she said, per the L.A. Times, and it isn't as bad all that bad though it's not the least bit good:

Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, 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, actually, is that she has her one lonesome fact wrong: Americans aren't able to choose "same-sex marriage" or "opposite marriage" as they see fit. Same-sex marriage is legal in three states, will become legal in a fourth in September of this year, and was briefly legal in California until last year. A number of states have bothered to put specific bans against same-sex marriage in their constitutions, while others have specifically banned it legislatively. Here's what Ms. Prejean's "land where you can choose" actually looks like, per Wikipedia:

You can click on the image to get a better look at the map key. Oh, and by the way: did you happen to also remember that under the Defense Of Marriage Act (signed into law by popular conservative-whipping-boy William Clinton, by the by), no same-sex marriage is recognized as legal by the Feds even in the states where it's legal? And actually, if you look at the color key closely--yep, that's right: in a few of those states, even under state laws same-sex marriage isn't even legal where it's legal. Glad we could clear that up. Yep, that's choice in this great country for you.

Now, for the rest of it: it's no doubt true that Ms. Prejean was raised the way she was raised and that's how she thinks it should be. What can you say to that? It isn't how I would raise my kids, if I had any; then again, I'd like to think I'm wise enough and way-cool enough to raise my kids to challenge me when they were old enough to stand up for themselves--as much as I'd be upset if a child of mine became a hard-right-wingnut, having a kid who is able to disagree with you (or agree with you on his or her own terms) is a mark of success in my book. The one thing that would break my heart harder than a child of mine repudiating some of my core ethical beliefs would be a child of mine blindly accepting them. Of course this is hypothetical--I'm not even dating. But you get the idea.

So what we have with Ms. Prejean is a false statement made out of ignorance bonded to an opinion which she's likely given utterly no thought too. Who cares if Ms. Prejean is tolerant--I'm not, and I see no reason to be non-judgemental, patient, or even nice. (Okay, as far as that last goes, maybe I ought to be nice on general principles... I'm thinking about it... still thinking... still thinking... hrm....)

Yeah. No. I'm going to stand by "insensitive moron with bad fake boobs."


Janiece Murphy Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 4:55:00 PM EDT  

Eric, if you ever go soft in the service of being "nice," I will fly to your part of the country in order to play roshambo with you.

And I get to go first. While wearing pointy shoes.

And I'd like to point out that both of the Smart Twins think I'm full of shit in terms of my political opinions. One's a Jeffersonian state's rights advocate, and one's a Libertarian, while I'm a tax and spend liberal. The only thing we have in common is a belief that government should be required to balance its budget.

And they can even occasionally defend their positions.

I'm hoping the Libertarian outgrows that bit of sophomoric tripe, but who knows?

Leanright,  Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 6:14:00 PM EDT  

May 5th, 2009. The day my comment was discussed in the daily posting of "giant midgets". I don't REALLY know who to thank first.

What I WILL say is that, when my twin girls grow up, and ask me "Daddy, what was the most special day of your life?". Knowing that they will want me to respond with "The day you were born, girls", I will actually mention, THIS very moment. Of course I will tell them that their birth was a very close second.

Eric, thank you for allowing me to retain my dignity....THIS time :)

Eric Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 7:01:00 PM EDT  

Oh dear--now I have to come up with something to push the birth of your children down into third place. Well, I'll see what I can do. :-P

leanright,  Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 11:10:00 PM EDT  

I'm thinking the only thing you could do, is to come out of the closet as a conservative.

Or grow wings and fly around the world.

Something tells me the second of those two is more likely.

Nathan Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 12:05:00 PM EDT  

I think little tiny green gossamer wings would be best.

Eric Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 12:24:00 PM EDT  

Probably wouldn't support my bulk, Nathan. Something like vast, black, white-capped vulture wings would probably be most suitable.

Random Michelle K Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 4:19:00 PM EDT  

No no no.

Red feathered wings. With little flames painted on the edge feathers.

That's what you'd need!

And don't forget the little strap on demon horns!

Leanright,  Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 6:13:00 PM EDT  

Michelle....I am SOOOOO glad you said "Demon Horns" after "Little Strap On"

Random Michelle K Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 8:06:00 PM EDT  

Learnright, you have absolutely no idea....

Leanright,  Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 11:26:00 PM EDT  

I live 50 minutes from Hollywood. I have SOME idea....no direct experience, mind you.

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