21 January 2009

An Open Letter to Tolerance

My Dear Friend Tolerance:

I don't know where you have gone, but I'm asking, nay, begging you to please come back to this world. I fear something terrible must have happened to you because I know that you would never let such atrocities be committed in your name if you were able to speak out. Your name has been co-opted by your most evil cousin Intolerance. He is using your proud name to push down and aside all those laboring to share conservative values with the world. For example, if someone dares to suggest that killing children while they grow inside their mother's womb, Intolerance cries out your name and says those people are not Tolerating the different viewpoints this modern world needs to allow for. He also smacks down anyone who dares to suggest that perhaps all this "progress" is dangerous for the entire world. Many times these voices crying out for the unborn are timid, quiet voices, just gaining the courage to speak. And in your name Intolerance shouts them down and drowns them out.

You may be wondering what if I can give you examples, but there are so many, I almost don't know where to start. However, today I learned exactly where I need to start. I need to start on a university campus in Saskatchewan. It may be small and insignificant in the grand order of things, but it is my campus and my home. At a University Student's Council meeting (a perfidious, dangerous place) a friend of Intolerance (who happens to work for one of Intolerance's chief disciples, the Woman's Center) got up to speak in your name. She asked the council to deny the campus pro-life group the right to host a Silent No More Awareness Campaign because such an event is "systemized harassment that should not be tolerated." In her mind, such an event displays a level of discrimination akin to intolerant White Supremacist groups. She then went on to accuse the pro-life group of refusing to show up at meetings to discuss previous harassment complaints for intolerant behavior. The worst part of all this my friend? It's that the pro-life group had no idea such a motion was even going to come before the Council, so they were not there to defend themselves. They had to find out when they read the campus newspaper. Such terrible allegations were printed for all the campus community to read, with the pro-life group given no change to respond.

Had they been given a chance, you can be assured they would have explained that first and foremost, a university campus is to be a tolerant place where different ideas and viewpoints can be discussed in a calm reasoned matter, without calling groups names and casting aspersions on their character. They then would have stated that they were aware of the complaints, and that they made every effort to set up a mutually agreeable meeting time, but that their e-mails were sometimes not responded to, and that as far as they know, no meeting was ever set, so how could they possibly have failed to show up? And finally, they would have said that they are guaranteed freedom of expression under section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

You see where this is going don't you my friend? This group is being accused of intolerant behavior, when really, it is the people who are trying to shut them down that are intolerant. In their world, people with dissenting opinions have no place speaking out. Instead of dealing directly with the arguments, the forces that oppose them cry out in your name that these groups are intolerant, bigoted and even racist. What happened to the marketplace of ideas?

Oh Tolerance, I fear that until you return to claim your rightful place back, Intolerance will rule and dissenters will be shut down. Please come back soon; I realize now that growing up, I didn't realize how lucky I was to have you protecting me. I miss you.

Most sincerely yours,

Sarah, a Catholic Law Student

P.S.- When you come, please ask Honesty, Dignity and Respect to return with you. You have no idea how much we need all of you.

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