Tolerate: 1) to endure or resist the action of (as a drug or food) without serious side effects or discomfort; 2) to allow to be or to be done without prohibition, hindrance, or contradiction; to put up with.
If I believe the Bible’s teachings that homosexuality is a sin, am I intolerant of homosexuals? I vehemently oppose abortion and believe unborn babies have a right to live. Am I intolerant of the woman who believes her so-called right of privacy trumps protecting the baby in her womb?
Homosexuality and abortion are no longer illegal in the United States. People can fornicate with whichever consenting adult they choose and kill their unborn babies because they don’t want to ruin their bikini bodies, at least during the first trimester. Although these acts are legal, they are immoral. I tolerate people who do immoral things. I tolerate people who hold opinions different than mine. I put up with them, and they should put up with me. I grew up understanding this is what tolerate means.
But in politically correct America the word seems to have taken on new meaning: acceptance or agreement. Intolerant is a buzzword akin to racist. People disingenuously toss it around to stop the discussion or confuse the issues or evoke shame. Our first reaction might be to deny being intolerant or racist, or to defend ourselves, especially if we go by the P.C. version of the word.
Consider this: The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is promoting Oct. 30 as “Mix It Up at Lunch Day,” under its “Teaching Tolerance” program. Children in government and private schools are encouraged to sit with other children they don’t usually associate with. On the surface, it sounds innocuous. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging—not coercing or misplaced guilt-tripping—kids to mingle with children of different races and ethnic backgrounds and venture outside their cliques. But consider the context. The SPLC promotes homosexuality. The American Family Association, which the SPLC lists as a hate group, calls the project “a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools. A strong focus is directed specifically to elementary and junior high grades.”
Is accepting or approving homosexual behavior part of the SPLC’s “Teaching Tolerance” program? Although the website mentions only race and ethnicity, the organization’s mission is to “focus on widespread issues of social injustice including children at risk, hate and extremism, immigrant justice, and LGBT rights.” The harmless sounding “Mix It Up” might be a step closer to “lifestyle” indoctrination. (But this is nuts.)
In any case, children should be taught to be polite to all and respectful of their elders. They can be courteous to those different than themselves without putting a stamp of approval on immoral behavior. I believe in the free expression of contrary ideas, and, begrudgingly, even ideas that disgust me. I can and do coexist with people whose views are polar opposite to mine.
If the definition of intolerant means disapproval of certain behavior, lifestyles, and opinions, then, yes, I am intolerant. Are you?