In Gordon Hawkes’s article ‘Respect vs agreement’ in the Feb 13th edition of The Phoenix, he discusses the idea of tolerance and expresses his frustration that “we label as intolerant, people who believe, for instance, that gay sex is morally wrong.” He states that “This false view of tolerance leads to real intolerance. A fitting example of this is the case of Dan Savage and Rick Santorum.”
I agree with the first quote by Mr. Hawkes. People seem to be quickly labelled intolerant for expressing a belief that is disagreeable, such as, homosexuality is wrong. A person has a right to think and say what they wish, and a tolerant person is one who believes X is wrong, but is willing to tolerate X’s existence. For example, a parent may not approve of their child’s ill behaviour, and if that parent chooses to tolerate it, then the ill behaviour will continue or it will stop depending upon the child. However, if the parent decides to step in and demand that the ill behaviour end, that parent is no longer tolerating the ill behaviour.
Mr. Hawkes’s assessment of Rick Santorum being falsely labelled as intolerant is incorrect. Rick Santorum IS intolerant of homosexual sex. Quoting Mr. Hawkes’ article again, “Rick Santorum said in an interview that the state has the right to regulate homosexual acts in the same way that it regulates other sexual acts such as adultery, polygamy, incest, and bestiality.” Santorum is an American lawmaker who would like to see the government re-criminalize homosexual acts, and thus he is demanding that this “ill behaviour” stops.
Tolerance is the difference between a belief and an action. You cross the line into intolerance once you demand that something you don’t like stops. For instance, I share Dan Savage’s intolerance for Santorum’s intolerance; I would like to see Santorum stop trying to criminalize homosexuality. I have no problem with Santorum’s distaste for homosexuality, so long as he doesn’t want to pass laws which will limit the freedoms of the consenting adults.