Listen, I will accept anyone's lifestyle, appearance, belief or idiosyncrasy just as long as they don't ask me to pay for it or wanna sit next to me on a plane and talk about it.
What I do object to are fringe groups who go beyond the notion of tolerance and demand our approval. Sorry, but if you move in next door to me, and one day I look out my window and see your wife cutting the lawn with her teeth because she's a sheep, don't expect me to bring a covered dish over when you two reaffirm your vows, okay?
Intolerance leads people to do strange things: go to war, burn books, riot at soccer games, and eschew lactose, and there's never any logical reason. Most arguments made by intolerant people have all the consistency of space shuttle Thanksgiving gravy.
Why can't anyone just shut up and listen anymore?
Whatever happened to the genteel art of sitting back and letting someone go on and on thinking he's right while you bask securely in the power of the knowledge that he or she is completely full of shit?
Now, as mentioned earlier, today's poster boy for intolerance is Eminem. I don't think there's really anything that damaging in Eminem's lyrics. He's no more dangerous than a bleached-blond Chihuahua chewin' on an old dishrag. Eminem doesn't upset me. You know why? Because he wants to upset me. Does his rap instill hate and inspire intolerance? All I can say is, not in me. As a matter of fact, it does the opposite. The more he talks about hating homosexuals, the more I urge gay inclusion in all aspects of society. The more crudely he rages against women, the more I crave their company and counsel. The more he casts blame on corporate responsibility for global warming resulting in the dangerous shrinking of the polar ice cap, the more I realize that you now know that I'm totally full of shit and have never even listened to his music.
You see, the danger inherent in fighting intolerance is that often those attempting to eradicate it end up practicing it, only in a mutated, once-removed form. Liberals in particular are guilty of this supposedly well-meaning recidivism. Honestly, it baffles me that the same people who blast away at President Bush's selection of a religious conservative for Attorney General won't give George W. any kudos for other cabinet choices which include blacks, Jews, Asians, Hispanics and women. Does a fundamentalist Christian not also represent a valued strand in our collective fabric? Who's really being intolerant of other peoples differences here? And by the way, who cares if Ashcroft's religion prohibits him from dancing? Who wants to see John Ashcroft dancing anyway? After all, I hear he was born with two right feet.
And as far as Senator Teddy Kennedy's quavering voice of righteous indignation constantly howling like a beagle at a Rick Wakeman concert at the prospect of a right wing conservative holding sway over the countrys law enforcement priorities... Give it a rest, Spam head. Let's not get into your view on womens rights and the sanctity of human life, okay, because where those issues are concerned, Teddy, you may not be, uh, shall we say, in control of your own vehicle. Capice, Tay-o?
And let's not let conservatives off the hook, either. Especially the religious right. Quick show of hands: if he came down and applied, how many here think Jesus would actually be accepted into Bob Jones University? C'mon, they'd beat the shit out of a long haired, peace-and-love hippy before he could turn the first cheek.
I think the truth is that you can never make everyone happy. The same people who scream about the freedom of choice for a woman to do what she wants with her body are forcing people who want their body to have a cigarette out into the streets to smoke. Some people who are against the death penalty are so adamant that they would electrocute those who are for it, and some of those who pray for the lives of the unborn also recite an extra "Our Father" when a clinic is bombed.
Look, tolerance does not mean you agree with everything that other people say, or that you subordinate your own best instincts to the tyranny of mass opinion. It simply means you pretend not to know that everyone on the planet but you is a total fucking moron.
The most unforgivable thing about intolerance is, by its inherent assumption that one group, belief or lifestyle is superior to another, it fails to take into account the ultimate truth which binds us all, black and white, gay and straight, Republican and Democrat, Arab and Israeli, Hindu and Muslim, Catholic and Protestant, Serb and Croat, Hutu and Tutsi: the fact that, at the end of the day, we are all equal pains-in-the-ass, in the eyes of the Lord.