Miss California & Tolerance

This is a long post. Sorry.

I think I need to weigh in a little on the Miss California/USA thing. Normally, Miss California/USA or Miss Anything is the last thing I care about. I honestly can’t think of many things lower on the list of importance. But while I was waiting for a table at breakfast this morning and reading some news on my Blackberry, I read some stuff on this story, and I just have to respond to some of the ignorance that’s going around about this.

Miss California (which, it turns out, isn’t her real name – it’s actually Carrie Prajean) was asked for her opinion on same-sex marriage. She said she’s against it. She was asked a question, and she gave an answer.

Not only did she answer the question, but she seemed to go out of her way to be nice in her answer. So out of the way, in fact, that she practically fell over her words trying to get them out – “I think I believe…” etc. She also pointed out that we have the right to choose what we believe, and she happened to have chosen this particular belief.

If Carrie had said something like, “I’m against same-sex marriage, and I think those who are in favor of it are wrong and are ruining this country and should be sent to an island somewhere and should all die…” etc., that would have been intolerant. Plus it would have been incredibly hateful, rude and kind of crazy. But she didn’t say anything like that. She was asked for her view, and she gave it – without demeaning anyone else’s view.

Here’s where it gets nuts. Carrie has been accused of being “intolerant.” Anyone who accuses her of intolerance doesn’t understand the meaning of the word tolerant. She has a view, which is contrary to the view of many other people. So, she disagrees. But “disagreement,” in and of itself, is not “intolerance.”

“Tolerance” means that I get along, and am respectful and gracious toward, people who have different opinions than me. However, and this is big – “tolerance” does not mean I pretend those differences don’t exist. “Tolerance” doesn’t mean I can’t have my own views, or further – that I can’t express my views.

To press this in a little *farther – if there’s no disagreement, then there’s no need for tolerance. Tolerance is irrelevant and unnecessary if there’s no disagreement or difference. Yet, it seems as though many of those who are demanding tolerance are really not asking for tolerance so much as they’re asking for agreement. 

So it appears to me that many of those who are accusing Carrie of intolerance are in fact being intolerant of her.


*Is it “farther” or “further?” I’ve never been sure about that, so in this case I chose “farther.” I’m asking for tolerance on the part of the “further” people.

Also – I’m aware of the fact that Carrie may lose her crown (OH NO! GASP!) because of some inappropriate photos she had taken when she was a teenager. Just to be clear – that doesn’t speak to the issue of her views on same-sex marriage. It does, however, speak to her stupidity as a teenager. (I don’t care if she loses the crown or keeps it, and I haven’t really been paying attention to whatever she’s been doing in her little press conferences).

Finally, nowhere in this (long) post did I state my own views on the issue of same-sex marriage or anything else, for that matter. I’m saying that because people may read this and think, “Oh he’s just saying that because he believes (fill in the blank). I believe what I believe. If you’ll look through my list of FB friends, you’ll find people who differ from me on a lot of issues. We’re friends because we like each other for personal or professional reasons – or both. What I’ve written in this post was motivated by my frustration with ignorance in general, not by my moral or political views.

OK, I’m done.


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12 Responses to Miss California & Tolerance

  1. jean Castaldo says:

    Kudos! My dear..

  2. Laura J. aka The Grammar Police says:

    Farther refers to physical distance (i.e. how FAR away something is).
    >I can run farther than he can.

    Further is kind of figurative.
    >How much further do you think this homosexuality debate will go?

    Further can also mean “in addition to” or “furthermore.” That’s how you used it, which was the correct way, just so you know.

    Now aren’t you glad you asked? =D

  3. charleysblog says:

    Glad I asked and learned about the further vs. farther thing.

    I need to point out, however, that this blog post is not intended to be about “the homosexual debate.” In fact that’s not something I would ever engage in online, at the risk of hurting people who mean a lot to me.

    Not sure if you were implying that but if so, that’s not where I’m going with this. I’m just trying to clarify some definition of “tolerance.” Plus, it’s always good to mock the whole Miss USA concept.

    Of course, if you weren’t trying to imply that, then never mind! And thanks again! To think I’ve lived nearly half a century without full understanding on the farther/further issue.

  4. Miss Cindy :) says:

    This issue has become so unnecessarily heated and hateful (mostly from the very people who call the other side hateful!)We are each entitled to our own beliefs and opinions;no one has the right nor should they try to bully anyone else to vote or act against their own conscience. A complicated issue to be sure but so simple in so many ways… we’re all in need of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and grace. Humility is a beautiful thing. That’s all I want to walk in!! Thanks Brotha!! XOXO

  5. Gino Marroquin says:

    When the story first broke I checked out the opponents site just to see what his “fans” had to say and by a far they thought that what he did only showed his intolerance. When a support of his tried to speak to his defense, I pointed out pretty much you stated here.
    I’m glad you chose to keep this about the topic and not your personal beliefs. After it’s nobodies business but your own.
    What happened with Ms Prajean is simply away for the adversary to try and cast doubt on the church. We have to stand together and tell Satan, “Jesus has our hands he’ll walk us through”.

  6. Leon says:

    I’ve always wondered about this whole “intolerance thing.” It seems to boil down to: “We will tolerate you as long as you agree with us.”

    Well, I can’t tolerate that!

  7. Miss Cindy :) says:

    So sorry to weigh in twice here (I’m totally anti-“weighing” of any kind these days!!haha) but I do think we, the church are reaping from some painfully bad choices made by our (I’m certain) well-intentioned brothers and sisters in the past regarding the whole homosexuality issue. As my cherished gay friends have told me, “We’ve been told God doesn’t want us, the church doesn’t want us, society doesn’t want us…yeah, we’re a little defensive.” I’ve not walked a mile in their shoes… all I can do is share the love and hope of Christ…holding their hand every step of their journey, listening and learning and hopefully bringing His healing, comfort and encouragement. Sorry to go on and on… have been involved in debates on ANGRY boards elsewhere and there’s definitely spiritual warfare going on in the midst of all the civil rights issues/blatant ignorance and twisting of the Bible (at times by so-called Christians)/lots of reactive posts, not a lot of taking the time to be educated…oh dear!! Yeah, it’s kinda complicated!! XO

  8. Mark P says:

    Charley, great, provocative post as evidenced by the thoughtful discussion it has generated. This whole “intolerance” definition has become so twisted. How I also hate the phrase “homophobe” that is bandied about so loosely. Words DO matter!

    Interesting how a beauty pageant question can go so much “further.” I agree with Miss Cindy (hi!) about all the “reaction” going on vs. thoughtful consideration of this complicated issue where grace is called for. Yesterday, I heard a spokesman for Family Research Council call Ms. PraJean a martyr for the “abuse she’s suffered at the hands of the blogosphere.” Really? She appears to be a young woman with strong convictions who has come under unfair attack…but shouldn’t we save the term “martyr” for those who are truly dying for their faith? Hard to “tolerate” inflammatory language on either side.

  9. joannmski says:

    While I was at retreat, our speaker said that it was Miss California’s turn to be a witness. And she was half nekkid. When it is our time to be a witness, we should not be half nekkid.

  10. Stella says:

    A very thoughtful post Charlie! I enjoyed everyones responses as well. It’s too bad that so many people are not getting the idea that Miss California has the right to her opinion and should not be persecuted for her thoughts. I also agree that she was trying to be kind to people that she knew would feel differently. Anyway… I really enjoyed your post. Have a great weekend.

  11. Mark P says:

    Charley, I continue to think about your original post about tolerance. The root of the word means “to bear or endure.”

    Official dictionary definition:
    –noun 1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.
    2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.
    3. interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.
    4. the act or capacity of enduring; endurance: My tolerance of noise is limited.

    It is very interesting that when there is a difference of opinion, it seems to be the Christians who are immediately labeled INTOLERANT, while the “offending” side is being TOLERANT — of everyone except the Christians who disagree with them.

    And it is very sad that right now, the message the “world” gets its that Christians find these things “intolerable” or “unbearable”:
    Gay marriage
    Criticizing President Bush
    “The Liberal Left-Wing Media”
    High taxes

    But I’ve been thinking about what I, as a Christian, might be called to REALLY find intolerable, unbearable or hard to endure?
    A family going hungry?
    Dare I say Torture?
    Or how about people dying without knowing the grace of their Savior?

  12. Miss Cindy :) says:

    I, too, am so enjoying reading everyone’s thoughts!! Mark, I love the perspective you put this whole issue in!! It reminds me of a thread I was recently involved in on FB with very angry “tollerant” Christian-bashers (!!) Anyway, I said, “Ya know, my heart is with the starving and dying in third world countries, the poor emotionally scarred children who are made into soldiers then released back to angry families/communities they were forced to fight against.” The reaction? “Well, you can support more than one cause can’t you??!!” HUH??!! It’s as if it’s the ONLY cause and if not that, then it deserves HIGH priority on my spiritual/civil “to do” lists. I just wish there could be sincere, non-confrontational dialogue, where gays and Christians (apparently their arch enemies!) could meet and sincerely, calmly communicate. Some of my closest friends are gay and they would do anything for me, and I for them. I just wish the majority of Christians could hear their stories. It wouldn’t negate the truth of the Bible but oh, how the compassion and understanding could grow!! 🙂

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