Monday, December 20, 2004

Tolerant of Intolerance?

The more attention I pay to the news, the more I'm forced to reevaluate my view of the world. I thought we were moving forward, trusting rationality, abandoning prejudices. But every time I hear about 'moral values' it's in a context I find repugnant. It's always about restoring the right religion (pun partially intended), censoring works of art, or outlawing homosexuality. Or, as is often the case, all three.

Gary Taylor of The Guardian, a British magazine, recently interviewed Gerald Allen, a representative from Alabama. Allen recently pushed a bill removing federal funds for any book or play which "promotes homosexuality," such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Chorus Line, and The Color Purple. It turns out that "Allen does not want taxpayers' money to support 'positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle'." Scared yet? Allen says that he does not see it as censorship, somehow comparing his bill to traffic lights... It's almost laughable.

But it's not. Because a substantial portion of America agrees with him. And he has political power, enough for his bill to gain attention, maybe even to get it passed with the presidential support he has. This is half the country... And it's completely different from me. How can we have one government, one leader, to represent all of us? Our current "majority rule" democracy hinges on the majority preserving the rights of the minority. Has it really taken America 228 years to figure out that the majority can oppress and trample the minority?

I would try to find a clever way to wrap up my thoughts... but Tom Tomorrow has already done it so nicely.


At 3:54 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Jesse, I agree. It's absolutely ridiculous that we're living in the 21st century and we still have to deal with such vast amounts of intolerance.

By a margin of 1,850 votes, Amendment 2 failed to pass in Alabama this past election. So, it looks like just over 50% of the Alabama electorate thinks that there still should be segregation in the school system. Some cite tax worries, but pretty much all reputable legal scholars assured voters that such an amendment would not give brand new powers of taxation to the state government-- and in a sense I'd almost be as worried if people believed that it actually would.

On a somewhat related, but more technical note. I just finished assisting a friend of mine bypass a horrible Internet Censorship program that his mother installed on his home computer. Such censorship is wholly irresponsible and often ineffective (as I handily proved by 133ting that P.O.S. with about 10 minutes of work. The more important point in general here is that these filters also block out lots of useful information such as medical information, sexual advice, peer counseling, etc.) For those interested in the topic of censorship on the internet in general, the following are two great resources: Peacefire and HOW TO Bypass Internet Censorship Oh, and the reason your post made me think of this, the particular Horrible Censorship Software's own filtering criteria lists "Alternative Lifestyles" as one of the MAJOR categories that it filters. Well, let's just say I'm glad the people who find it important to filter what could be very valuable and important information for youth who may have no uncensored access to the Internet are total morons. It's advertised as "Even the most motivated, Internet-savvy teen won’t get through Bsafe Online’s Internet filter. Published cracks and teen “work arounds” abound for most other Internet filtering software packages - there are none for Bsafe Online’s parental control software."

None, you say? I hacked it in my sleep. Score 0 for intolerant software manufacturers. Score 1 for free speech.

At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah it really sucks that slightly over half of our country is a bunch of backward hicks. Because they are. Fuck differing opinions, people who voted for Bush are thoughtless shitheads. -Josh

At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To josh- You said fuck differing opinions, well that was an extremely ignorant statement which shows anybody who reads your comment that you are a shithead who thinks that only his opinion is right, great goin!! I can tell you really are a fan of free speech, that is if it's your free speech and no one else's. so much for that, you Homosexual duesch bag.


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