Thursday, April 26, 2012

Intolerance on Both Sides of the Ron Brown Debate

As Lincoln debates a ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identity, the focus returns to Nebraska assistant coach Ron Brown. Brown was outspoken in his opposition to a similar ordinance when it was enacted in Omaha last month, so there's no surprise the issue has rekindled in the city where Brown lives and coaches. As the debate has evolved, it grew from intolerance from Ron Brown to intolerance from the other side against Brown's religion.

Last month, a member of the Lincoln School Board called for Ron Brown to be fired for airing his viewpoints publicly. And by doing so, school board member Barbara Baier was guilty of the same intolerant viewpoint that Brown expressed.  Brown was intolerant of Baier's sexuality; Baier was intolerant of Brown's religion.

They are both wrong.  Not in their core beliefs; that's a personal matter for them to deal with.  What's wrong is trying to force their viewpoint onto others.  Brown has a moral objection to homosexuality; he views it as wrong, and he shares that viewpoint with others. There is nothing wrong with openly saying that you view homosexuality as being morally wrong.  Where Brown went wrong was in taking the viewpoint that gay people can be discriminated against for being gay. Brown's position equates to punishing people for their moral views. To quote Jesus Christ, from the Gospel of John, chapter 8, verse 7:
"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 
 Baier is just as guilty of intolerance by demanding that Brown be fired for having these views. It's one thing to disagree, but another thing to demand that Brown be fired for expressing his religion.  Just because someone has views contrary to yours is no reason to call for him to be silenced.  Some people view eating meat as immoral; that's their position, and they are welcome to make that choice as long as that choice isn't forced on me.  Some people violate their marriage vows by carrying on affairs; again, that's their choice and as long as they do not ask me to condone their actions, that's their business.  Should someone lose a job or not be able to rent or buy a house because they have different moral values?  Absolutely not.  In the end, it comes down to your morality, and while people have the right to share their moral values, people do not have the right to force their moral values onto others.  That goes both ways:  Brown can criticize homosexuality, and Baier can criticize Brown for his views.  But both went over the line:  Brown for saying that homosexuals can be discriminated against, and Baier for saying Brown should be fired for saying homosexuality is wrong.

The ACLU has a long running history of trying to silence Ron Brown for his religious views; in their world, trampling on Brown's rights is somehow excused by claims that Brown is "forcing" his beliefs on others. It's a bizarre viewpoint in my opinion, as the point of education is to expose people to new ideas.  If groups like the ACLU were truly interested in protecting civil rights, they would be lobbying schools to bring in non-Christians to balance Brown's message.

In the end, someone should not lose their job because they are a homosexual...or whether they view homosexuality is wrong.  Tolerance is something that's in far too short of supply in society today.

1 comment:

Section 37 said...

Interesting take on the Ron Brown situation from Bleacherreport.com:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1160356-nebraska-football-if-ron-brown-were-sincere-hed-already-be-gone