We must strive for tolerance and civility | Letter to the Editor
December 4, 2012 · Updated 1:06 PM
Regarding the Mormon church and same-sex marriage, terms such as freedom of speech, bias, tolerance and civility have been thrown around with apparent disregard for their meaning and context.
Freedom of speech is a protection for the speaker, not the idea. Placing an idea into the marketplace invites others to express their own ideas about it, including disagreeing with it, even condemning it. The civil rights movement was not predicated on respecting the ideas of segregation or inequality.
All opinions are biased by definition. All bias, however, is not equal. Being biased against enforcement by law of one’s personal beliefs upon those who do not share them is qualitatively different than being biased against the right to have those beliefs personally.
Tolerance and civility are wonderful concepts, to be striven for and applied wherever possible, but tolerance of intolerance is not really tolerance at all. I doubt very much that were a religious organization pouring millions of dollars into imposing legislation denying interracial couples the right to marry (something many of the religious organizations now fighting same sex marriage rights once did — and some of them do to this day — with eerily similar rationale), we’d be hearing quite so many calls for tolerance on their behalf.
I support the right of all people to have, live and speak their own beliefs, agree or disagree. But when people seek to impose those beliefs on those who do not share them by force of law, true tolerance requires defending those who are in danger of having their rights trampled, not protecting demonstrably bigoted ideas merely because we respect the rights of people to have and express them. Oppression has never been defeated by invoking a perversion of the term civility to avoid calling it what it is.
— Tim Johnson