Freedom of speech in the U.S. is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by many state constitutions and state and federal laws. Everybody doesn’t think alike and I am thankful for that, because God did not create us to be robots. We have the ability to think differently and act differently than our fellow man or woman. We are uniquely made.
I have often wondered, however, how some people believe they have the ability to stifle other people’s thoughts and beliefs, and prevent them from expressing themselves on matters in which they may not necessarily agree or subscribe.
Take the issue surrounding homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
You would be naïve to think that everyone has evolved and taken up a position that believes that homosexuality and same-sex marriage is acceptable to them.
The issue surrounding homosexuality in America has been a hot-button issue that has riveted this nation for decades. You would have to be living under a rock to have missed seeing issues involving the LGBT community, equal rights ordinances and same-sex marriage dominating news headlines and social media.
The issue of homosexuality has also been a major topic politically and has even gone all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
When President Barack Obama came out in support of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, many people across the country weighed in on the issue.
There were many people who applauded President Obama’s decision to support the issue, while many others expressed their disappointment with him. President Obama has used the “bully pulpit” of the presidency to contact sports figures who decided to declare their sexuality identity to the general public, as well as other individuals who have decided to boldly do so.
There are people who have strong opinions on both sides of the coin concerning the issue of homosexuality, but the question I have is, who is right and who is wrong?
Whatever side you fall on concerning this issue, it is important for us to talk about who actually defines what is acceptable and unacceptable for us to deem morally right and wrong in American society and popular culture?
It bothers me when I see people have a particular belief system or ideology, turn around and demonize someone who doesn’t agree with their thought processes and hurl insults and seek to brand them with labels that are disparaging.
Most of them have never even reached out to have a conversation with the people who see things differently than they do. They just lash out and attack.
There appears to be such a double standard when it comes to how the media and many members of mainstream American culture treat those who have an opposing view towards homosexuality, versus those who have an opposing view towards Christianity or any other religious belief system that doesn’t embrace homosexuality as acceptable.
I know people who openly profess to be atheist or agnostic, and denounce God and religion, yet they want their beliefs to be tolerated and accepted. But the person who stands by their religious convictions is deemed a homophobic individual and is publicly lynched for their position.
I mean, some people can be so downright disrespectful and demeaning when someone differs with their belief or opinion; many of them lack true “tolerance” and become downright abusive and start viciously attacking people who are on the opposite end of the spectrum or who have a different world view. How can that be acceptable and right?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “tolerance” is defined as “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.”
As I see it, whenever a person has a differing position on issues like homosexuality, politics or religion, there are some people who tend to respond emotionally and seek to vilify those who have a different belief and value system than they do.
In my opinion, “tolerance” means respecting another person’s beliefs or opinions, without being forced to accept them as my own. I mean, I can respect a person’s point of view, but I shouldn’t be forced to have to agree with it.
Most people are so passionate about what they believe that they can or will never deviate from that. You are never going to get 100% of people to unanimously support any particular issue, so people should be realistic about that; but people with religious beliefs don’t always receive the same respect for their views and “tolerance.”
So check it out…I know what the dictionary says about “tolerance,” but the real question is, whether true “tolerance” and acceptance of others’ beliefs, faiths and opinions is really being administered fairly to everyone or only for those who dictate what is acceptable or unacceptable in today’s society and culture? I really do hope I can get an answer.
I am not concerned about how grown individuals choose to live their lives together, but I do have a problem with Americans constantly being told what they should think and believe and accept, regardless of whether it is good or bad.
Every word we say is being overly criticized by the thought police and if you are paying attention, we are starting to see that many of us are being punished for our beliefs and ideologies, no matter what they are. Much of our freedom is being taken away from us because we choose to express and have thoughts that are different from popular culture. How is that fair and just?
So again I ask the question – who defines what is acceptable and unacceptable in American society and popular culture? Who defines what is right and wrong in this country? Who truly controls the “moral compass” in America, y’all? I will await the answer.
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.