There being little that has captured my attention in recent times – apart from a surfeit of violence just about everywhere, I feel justified in returning to a familiar theme. Not ‘the two-state solution’ – why not simply expand the State of Israel to include everything from Syria to Yemen – that’d give the Palestinians a bit more room to move – no. As the end of term gallops ever closer, I find myself trying to be gracious, tolerant and fair when compiling student reports, always an exercise in creative fiction and which I’m not very good at any more, tending to say what I want to say rather than that which I am expected, indeed ‘told’ to.
In a similar vein, I am almost never ‘told’ I must be tolerant of other people’s religion, except by unctuous politicians seeking re-election who tell everyone on prime time TV. It’s just expected that ‘civilised people’ have no moral or intellectual scruple about rational acquiescence to the notion that others may hold different opinions to their own. The validity of such opinions can and perhaps should be challenged since it’s logically fallacious to suppose that just because a large number of people have been persuaded by crappy logic it isn’t necessarily either right or expedient. So with a large, powerful lobby group who in my view cruelly and despicably determined to raise a triumphalist mosque near the site of the atrocities of 9/11 in New York, am I supposed to simply be tolerant?
Furthermore, I find myself wondering which tenet of their religion do you mean? A religion, after all, is a system of beliefs and to say that all beliefs are equally worthy of tolerance is to say, essentially, that ideas don’t matter at all. It’s just blither and squiff.
For instance, I always try not to think about burning or beheading those who hold different views on transubstantiation than I do – though there are days when it’s difficult, believe me, especially when such views are accompanied by the cushioned arrogance which a belief in Tradition tends to foster. Whiffs of Popery have the stink of enslavement about them and I do think that Anglicans with Catholic, misogynistic tendencies who hide behind esoteric theology condemning the priesthood of women ought to just bugger off back to Rome where they belong. By contrast, if, like those Westboro Baptist clowns, you turn up at an American soldier’s funeral claiming he deserved to die because America tolerates homosexuality and “God hates fags,” then you’re off my Facebook list for good. Because your beliefs suck.