Saturday, January 09, 2010

Brit Hume's Tiger Woods remarks shine light on true intolerance

Well said:

Michael Gerson -
Hume's critics hold a strange view of pluralism. For religion to be tolerated, it must be privatized -- not, apparently, just in governmental settings but also on television networks. We must have not only a secular state but also a secular public discourse. And so tolerance, conveniently, is defined as shutting up people with whom secularists disagree. Many commentators have been offering Woods advice in his travails. But religious advice, apparently and uniquely, should be forbidden. In a discussion of sex, morality and betrayed vows, wouldn't religious issues naturally arise? How is our public discourse improved by narrowing it -- removing references to the most essential element in countless lives?

True tolerance consists in engaging deep disagreements respectfully -- through persuasion -- not in banning certain categories of argument and belief from public debate.

In this controversy, we are presented with two models of discourse. Hume, in an angry sea of loss and tragedy -- his son's death in 1998 -- found a life preserver in faith. He offered that life preserver to another drowning man. Whatever your view of Hume's beliefs, he could have no motive other than concern for Woods himself.

The other model has come from critics such as Shales, in a spittle-flinging rage at the mention of religion in public, comparing Hume to "Mary Poppins on the joys of a tidy room, or Ron Popeil on the glories of some amazing potato peeler." Shales, of course, is engaged in proselytism of his own -- for a secular fundamentalism that trivializes and banishes all other faiths. He distributes the sacrament of the sneer.

Who in this picture is more intolerant?

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