In Defence Of Tolerance
I’ve found twitter to be a bit boring lately but today a perfect storm brew up and once again the Daily Mail and one of its odious columnists was at its centre. Melanie Phillips’ opinion piece was a perfectly constructed piece of trolling that implied that since the repeal of section 28, schools have been flooded with an influx of gay propaganda in subjects like maths, history and geography. Well I’m all for it, Alan Turing was a genius brutally mistreated by his country despite turning the second world war in favour of the allies - that story is maths and history is combined. Meanwhile, if you can spice up geography a bit go for it. I am not sure what you would do, discuss routes for pride marches? After all, the subject is hideously out of date now that we all have google maps on our phones.
Just like Melanie Phillips.
Well, she probably does not have google maps on her phone. It is probably old school, like her views. And just like that hypothetical phone, her views are out of date.
I used to get incredibly angry about homophobia. I speak here as a nominally bisexual man (I’d say one or two notches off straight on the Kinsey scale), so I do view it as a personal attack when such views are spouted. I see her views as a slur not on gay people but everyone I regard as a friend, everyone that I love. You see, there is no gay agenda as she bleats about in her ridiculous tract, there is only the concern that one should treat others as they would expect to be treated. She is being intolerant about tolerant people, she is accusing tolerant people of being intolerant. She cannot see the forest for the trees. In fact, in desperately trying to ally herself with Christian values, she can no longer see Jesus, only the cross (I’m not very good at theology, so I may not return to this point - ask politely in the comments if you fancy a discussion).
So. I used to get angry about this. Now I am just disappointed. On Saturday, I went to see a glorious film called The Portuguese Nun. It really is brilliant, I cannot recommend it enough. Set in Lisbon, it recounts the adventures of an actress in the city to make a film about a nun who runs off with a soldier in the 17th century. It is about faith, family and living one’s life without passing judgement on others. Even the nun that the central character encounters, devout as she is, is possessed of tolerance and faith, not faith in place of tolerance or tolerance in place of faith. From this believable and touching representation of genuine religious faith, I know that faith is not incompatible with tolerance and love.
Meanwhile, central to this hissy fit of the Daily Mail columnist is the story about a Christian couple who owned a B&B; and refused to allow a gay couple to share a room. Apparently homosexuality was incompatible with their faith and they felt it was unnatural. I find this disturbing and hilarious in equal measure. I am disturbed by the fact that one couple who love each other very much could tell another couple that their love was wrong. This upsets me a lot. And moreover, this notion that homosexuality is unnatural - not for gay or bisexual people it isn’t! For them, pretending to be heterosexual would be. By that logic, I think that motorists are unnatural. We’re clearly designed to walk on two legs and that’s how God intended it. Everyone who drives a car is going to hell. It’s a shame, because I know some very nice people who drive cars. Sometimes they give me lifts to places.
Anyway, someone wrote their opinion in a paper I hate and I disagreed. Whoop-de-doo. It’s disappointing because you would think that they would prefer to be crowing about the glorious demolition job that our hateful government is perpetrating against the society that they hate and clearly have no stake in preserving. This is why I had to write this post, to say that I read it anyway and I disagree with it. I believe there are plenty of decent and tolerant people out there who agree with me. They can’t be allowed to feed on our good will and optimism and love for the sake of their hatred and fear and their lies.
(NB: I originally linked to the post through a service that didn’t influence the traffic numbers of the Daily Mail. As this service is now closed, I won’t link to the Daily Mail website directly.)