The struggle to tolerate intolerance

A reminder of why I left religion behind and will never look back.

Whilst minding my own business in between classes today, I came upon the curious sight of several men proselytizing on campus grounds. Chief among their message, aside from “Jesus saves you from hell,” was that homosexuality is a sin and that any who dabble in it are going to hell. Well isn’t that just spreading the love of Jesus.

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A demonstration of wanton hate

The picture above is one that I just took. Not bad for a “dumb” phone, eh? When I see demonstrations like this, my blood boils. I am instantly reminded by this, of the mindless hate that I was surrounded with as a youth growing up in a church environment. The ignorance, the hatred, the judgment, and the clear lack of respect these proselytizers have for fellow human beings absolutely astounds me. These men were being ridiculed for their beliefs, which, quite frankly, they were asking for on a silver platter (college campuses are notoriously liberal and left-wing. Trying to preach on one is not ballsy, it’s just stupid). I tried to pose a few legitimate, logical questions to these fellows, and when it was clear that they could not produce an intelligible response (indicated by the deer in headlights stare), they went right back to their very obviously pre-planned and scripted dialogue.

Even in the midst of the rage which this sight induced in me, I still hold to my belief that people are free to believe in what they want, however backward I might think that it is. But the moment that you try to force your beliefs on others is when I feel that a line has been crossed, and any ridicule you collect is solely your responsibility. One fellow who was debating with these preachers correctly quoted the fact that the Constitution of the United States protects their right to free speech, and also correctly pointed out that the same Constitution protected his own right to oppose it.

But at what point is hate speech a protected right? When you are disturbing the peace, harassing people who are minding their own business, and purposely trying to offend a demographic that you must know will not approve of your message (if you don’t then you are legitimately a dullard), is that really a responsible exercising of free speech, 1st Amendment rights? Does it fall under the protected right of freedom of protest in a public forum? I think this is stretching the definition. There is a proper time and place, as well as a proper way, of holding a peaceful demonstration. The encounter that I had today was not peaceful, but rather improper, hateful, malicious, judgmental, a disruption of peoples’ lives, and a menace to the peace.

It deserves every ounce of ridicule that is hurled at it.

FIN

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