John M. Becker

Capehart: Tolerance is Not a Two-Way Street

Filed By John M. Becker | May 14, 2014 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: accommodating bigotry, biogtry apologism, false equivalency, Jonathan Capehart, Last Word, Michael Sam, tolerating intolerance, William Rhoden

capehart-rhoden-tolerate-intolerance.jpgOn Monday night's episode of The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell, Washington Post opinion writer Jonathan Capehart emphatically pushed back against the absurd notion that gays and lesbians should be expected to "tolerate" homophobic bigotry.

The person making this claim was New York Times sports columnist William Rhoden, who called Michael Sam's famous on-air kiss a "stunning moment" but then bizarrely expressed a slight discomfort about having seen it in the first place. And then came this desperate attempt at a false equivalency:

I think that to deal with things openly there has to be an open back-and-forth dialogue. Tolerance can't just work one way. You can't just be one way, that anybody who speaks out... this cannot turn into a Gestapo-type situation where if you express discomfort with something, then you're cast as a homophobe and you're fined by the league. I think that there has to be a back-and-forth.

I'll pause briefly to note that, predictably, Rhoden makes no such demand for "tolerance" of other forms of bigotry; as an example, he's been all over cable news (rightfully) condemning Donald Sterling's repugnant racism. Double standard much?

Capehart, to his credit, wasn't having any of it:

So what you're saying is that Michael Sam has to put up with people disrespecting who he is... and he just has to put up with it and take it? ...What you're saying is he's supposed to be silent, that he's supposed to stand silently by and let people disrespect him.

Rhoden resisted Capehart's characterization and doubled down on his homophobia apologism. "This [on-air same-sex kisses] is new," Rhoden said. "It's not like this happens every day."

And then came the smackdown. Capehart:

Hatred's not new, bigotry is not new, ignorance isn't new. And so when someone denigrates somebody else for who they are... I understand you're saying that it has to be a two-way conversation. But tolerance, no, is not -- it should not be a two-way street. It's a one-way street.

You cannot say to someone that who you are is wrong, an abomination, is horrible, you know, get a room, and all of those other things that people said about Michael Sam, and not be... made to understand that what you're saying and what you're doing is wrong.

Amen, Jonathan. As I myself have said over and over and over again, calls for people to "tolerate" intolerance are actually demands that we accommodate and legitimize bigotry -- and that's something that we cannot and must not do. Ever.

Watch Capehart demolish the false "intolerance-must-be-tolerated" equivalency, after the jump.


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