Tolerance and Cluelessness

TG caught this in the paper today, and I decided something in it made it eminently bloggable:

Dear Amy: My husband and I have lived in our quiet suburban Denver neighborhood for six years.

About two years ago two young gay men moved in across the street. They’ve taken the ugliest, most run-down property in the neighborhood and remodeled and transformed it into the pride of the street.

When it snows, they shovel out my car and are friendly, yet they mostly keep to themselves.

Last month I went out to retrieve my newspaper and watched them kiss each other goodbye and embrace as they each left for work.

I was appalled that they would do something like that in plain view of everyone.

I was so disturbed that I spoke to my pastor. He encouraged me to draft a letter telling them how much we appreciate their help but asking them to refrain from that behavior in our neighborhood.

I did so and asked a few of our neighbors to sign it.

Since I delivered it, I’ve not been able to get them to even engage me in conversation.

I offer greetings but they’ve chosen to ignore me.

They have made it so uncomfortable for the other neighbors and me by not even acknowledging our presence.

How would you suggest we open communications with them and explain to them that we value their contributions to the neighborhood but will not tolerate watching unnatural and disturbing behavior. – Wondering

Dear Wondering: You’re lucky that these gentlemen merely choose to ignore you.

Your neighbors could respond to your hospitality by hosting weekly outdoor “gay pride” barbecues and inviting all of their friends to enjoy life on our quiet suburban street.

I can hold out hope that they will choose to do this, but I’m spiteful in that way. Your neighbors sound much more kind.

In your original petition to these men, you basically stated that while you value them when they are raising the standard on your street and shoveling your driveway, you loathe them for being who they are.

The only way to open communication with your neighbors would be to start by apologizing to them for engaging your other neighbors in your campaign. Because you don’t sound likely to apologize, you are just going to have to tolerate being ignored.

And embarassed in print as well…somehow I keep thinking of the classic line in Blazing Saddles, where the elderly woman brings an apple pie to Bart, the black sheriff, after he’s saved the town from Mongo and then comes back to remind him to have the decency not to tell anyone she’s talked to him.

32 thoughts on “Tolerance and Cluelessness”

  1. I really prefer it when the bigots keep their prejudices out in the open, so you can see them coming. My neighborhood is heavily gay (though the regular yuppie-types are moving in), and it’s been one of he nicest places I’ve ever lived.

    They keep trying to set me up with their single straight friends, though, which can be a real pain…

  2. I still don’t understand why people get so offended by this;

    run your own life, let people do their own thing. As long as their not making drugs in their basement, or keeping you up with the sound of loud,loud sex it ain’t nobody’s business.

    I respect that same view with Christians. I will sit down and have a long talk about christian views and politics, but the second you start telling me how to live MY life, I’m going to get pissed off. Save yourself, and let the rest of us enjoy our damnation.

  3. THe gay issue, rationally viewed, always comes back to the children. We can, as adults, take great pleasure in the humour and high notion of esthestics to be found in many gays. But if we continue to tolerate their presence in straight areas as being normal in all ways, physical and other, we do society a very large wrong. In the long run, say 20 to 30 from now, if things continue at the present break-neck pace of forced gay legitimization, we will see exagerated displays of physical gay affection everywhere, common place in the extreme.

    Children growing up in such an atmostphere will feel more disposed to radical sexual experimentation as they approach and pass through adolesence. Such behaviour can only add much negativity to modern day life’s confusion. I don’t see the benefits.

    The straight guy in ARMED LIBERAL’S article was right in giving his naive but honest protest note to his gay neighbors. His protest crudely outlines the essence of the wall that will always separate the straight and gay worlds….. all of us respect other men’s right to live their lives as they see fit…..but not to the point of sanctifying as unquestioningly normal socially persons with an all abiding prediliction to sodomy. A thousand statutes and a million gay marches will change very little over time.

    Ultimately, tolerance is the temporary or provisional validation of an act or policy. That which enjoys clear, sustained validation need no longer require tolerance. We tolerate hay fever, smelly feet, leaky summer cabins, tardy guests and flat tires. We do not tolerate but often endure floods, fires, corporate failures, fraud and chronic infidelity. I don’t know exactly where in your face, high visibility gay behaviour figures in all of this. Likely somewhere between the two extremes.

    Hopefully, this notion of temporality, an often ignored component in the meaning of the word tolerance, will become more apparent to all of us in the coming years — particularly to those with the life long sinecures at SCOTUS.

  4. A ‘kiss’ isn’t going to do anything to anybody. Most kids we’ll say “ewww, kissing” if anybody does it.

    Now, if the couple is making out on their front porch, I would ask them to stop. But I would also ask a straight couple to stop. It’s inappropriate. Just like I’d ask a couple to stop using swears on their lawn. Because we know that this is not model behavior for children.

    I guess I have no *proof* that gay kissing (or probably just pecking) is not bad for children. Nor can you prove that it is bad for children. We should conduct a study, and see if a gay couple kiss is more dangerous to young children a straight couple kiss.

    It’s the only way to scientifically determine how _dangerous_ this couple really is.

  5. Pips…

    I think what you are doing is trying to dress up some kind of visceral reaction to look like reason.

    Homosexual’s are a subset of the human race. They always have been, and they always will be. Seeing two men kiss in their driveway isn’t going to make your child gay. Ever.

    So all your rationalizations are pretty lame. “Wild, in your face gay behavior?” Would that be opposed to all the “wild, in your face heterosexual behavior” that surrounds us daily?

    We live in a nation awash in pornography. Any kid, anywhere, can log on to the internet and google video of pretty much any sex act he can imagine. If his imagination is limited… well, he can just sample the myriad combinations of people and fetishes.

    But you’re worried that two gay guys kissing each other goodbye in the morning are going to drive our children to radical sexual experimentation.

    Or maybe you’re just an intolerant bigot who can’t mind his own business.

  6. In the long run, say 20 to 30 from now, if things continue at the present break-neck pace of forced gay legitimization, we will see exagerated displays of physical gay affection everywhere, common place in the extreme.

    Ya know, the same thing crossed my mind when I saw my neighbor banging his wife over the fender of his car last week.

    If I’d have only warned him not to kiss her goodbye 10 years ago this would never have happened.

    Pip, I’m not going to call you a bigot though I’m sure many others will. But I will say that you obviously have some serious sexual issues you should deal with. How long has the act of kissing your spouse goodbye in the mornings been making you consider fellatio in the driveway?

    And how long before the temptation gets the better of you?

    Your neighbors have a right to know. Perhaps you should be on some list within the community?

  7. I admit that if my two male neighbors engaged in a kiss it would probably startle me for a moment. The reason is that I have not been exposed to it. However I would not say anything to them, either in a note or in person. The reason is simple; I don’t want them telling me that I can’t kiss my wife. Further, if you want to insure any behavior is repeated go and point it out!

  8. pips – you need to get out more. Because today “we will see exagerated displays of physical gay affection everywhere, common place in the extreme” in most big cities and on lots of our media. Try visiting West Hollywood or the Castro District of San Francisco on Halloween.

    And we see exaggerated displays of physical straight affection all kinds of places – there was a Jena Jameson billboard up in family-friendly Times Square the last time we were in New York.

    The reality is that the goal of society should be to encourage the creation of stable, home-improving and snow-shoveling families with little attention paid to who sleeps with who.

    A.L.

  9. Pips has a point. There was a quote I saw from a sociological observer that I wish I could attribute now:

    ” We seem to have blurred the distinctions between and among the notions of tolerance, acceptance, approval, endorsement and encouragement.”

    We inevitably move from toleration to encouragement.It’s the way of this secular, post-modern world whenever it breaks down new ” barriers of intolerance”.

  10. #5 (Pips) says:
    The straight guy in ARMED LIBERAL’S article was right in giving his naive but honest protest note to his gay neighbors.

    I suggest you read a little more carefully. The writer of the letter clearly says

    My husband and I

    Sure, this couple was right, in the sense of “within their rights”–of expression. But They (the putatively OFFENSIVE ones) are equally within societal norms to choose to give such correspondents the cold shoulder thereafter. It’s a big ol’ free country, now ain’t it?

    I agree with alchemist on the whole kissing-goodbye thing not being the same as making out (and, similarly, hugging not being the same as groping). If the moment was halfway chaste, get over it. Here’s why, Mr and Mrs Middle America:

    Jesus kissed people, including men, all the time, and I bet he embraced them, too. Even men with LEPROSY. Whao Nellie! There are lots of present-day hypermasculine cultures (including the Middle East–you know, the place Jesus came from?) where men embrace, kiss, and walk hand-in-hand.

    So?

  11. The only circumstance I can imagine having sympathy for pips’ position is if there were evidence that being gay was such an attractive alternative to heterosexuality that the publicity would lead to *everyone* becoming gay, and the rapid extinction of the human race.

    But you know, it ain’t gonna happen.

    First, just subjectively, heterosexuality is too large a draw for me, for people like me, and too many other people, to die out.

    Second, evolution favors the heterosexual. We are all descended from long lines of heterosexuals. Not necessarily totally committed heterosexuals (who knows? not me!), but certainly enough to keep the race alive.

    Now, we’re all perfectly free to prefer and campaign for a culture with less promiscuity, less pornography, less openly sexual behavior, or to prefer a culture with more of all those things. But to worry that homosexuality will crowd heterosexuality out of the social marketplace? That’s just silly.

  12. Beard raises the issue of evolution. I’ve always thought that homosexuality couldn’t be genetic if evolution is a correct theory.

    I think part of the antipathy to homosexuality is the fear more people will practice it. I don’t think this fear is necessarily irrational. If picking your nose in public wasn’t treated as a social faux pas, more people would probably do it because they’d feel it was acceptable. I’ve read that homosexuality was widely practiced among the Spartans and this was a large part of why they died out. If homosexuality is genetic, then how could it come to be so widely practiced in a society to the point they fail to reproduce?

  13. Also, has anyone ever seen the Werner Herzog documentary Grizzly Man? There’s this scene where Timothy Treadwell is alone in the wilderness musing to himself about how much easier it would be to be gay than straight. It’s an interesting point. He felt he wouldn’t have to go through the rigamarole of going on dates and courting women, etc to get dates. It’s just easier to go to a bathhouse or get yourself “serviced” in a gas station. The scene is hilarious, but, if you just want sex, he has a point. It’s a wonderful documentary. This is the nutter who “protected” bears but was eaten by one.

  14. Lindenen, it may be that the genetic disposition carries with it another characteristic with a useful trait. An example of this is the sickle cell trait which is thought to confer a resistence to malaria.

  15. I agree with most all of the comments above. I would hesitate, however, to jump to any extreme or the other.

    If the neighbor had an ugly mailbox, I’d be within my rights to get a letter together to tell them they’re stinking up off the neigborhood, but other than that, they are good folks. It’s called communication. Likewise, they can choose not to associate with me because of the letter.

    Sexuality has little to do with it, unless somehow the letter writer was saying that society should enact laws to control the behavior of gay couples, which she wasn’t. People are free to be ticked off by other people’s behavior — and even to make, e-gad, judgements about other people. Fifty years ago you could substitute a straight couple and an old lady and the letter would be the same. Fifty years from now — who knows — could be four guys making out with a horse. There will always be neighborhood norms and there will always be people celebrating their right to be individiuals. Both are good things.

  16. Then there should be some sort of trait they all have in common, no?

    Also, if it’s genetic, then how could it come to be so widely practiced?

    From an interesting site:
    “Also, more often than not, when one identical twin is gay, the other is not.”

    If it’s genetic, then shouldn’t most identical twins with one gay twin both be gay? This site claims it’s the opposite and then puts forward the interesting idea that homosexuality is caused by a microorganism. He’s also put forward the idea that creative genius is also caused by microbes.

  17. 1) Evolutionists have no idea where homosexuality comes from.

    *but*

    It happens in nature all the time. My psychology teacher in highschool grew up on a farm, and he used to talk about how there was always one male sheep who didn’t hang out with the women….

    BTW: having had a few gay friends over the years, all relationships are still equally confusing (though for men, sex might be easier, but how many guys find that attractive?). Especially lesbians, women really find out why we’ve been complaining all these years…

  18. “I’ve always thought that homosexuality couldn’t be genetic if evolution is a correct theory.”

    I have the same theory about Cystic Fibrosis and Downs Syndrome.

    Like most human behaviors, homosexuality is complex. Ever since Christian fundamentalists discovered science they have been enchanted with reductionism (evolution cant exist because of the flagellum or what have you). Trying to take that kind of argument to human behavior, particularly sexual/gender identity, is bound to be even less productive (if that is possible). I dont expect we will find a ‘gay gene’ any time soon, but neither are we going to find a ‘monogomy gene’, a ‘pomiscuity gene’, an ‘i cry after sex gene’, or a ‘i’m completely a-sexual’ gene, all of which are human behaviors found in all human cultures universally.

    The ‘for the children’ argument immediately sets off every alarm bell my head has. Is there any question touching on morality can’t be tied ‘to the kids’ (and probably has at some point)? Those Wikkans down the street… bad for the kids. Communists giving a reading at the book store- bad for the kids. Meat on Friday at the Sizzler- so bad for the kids. The bottom line is if you’re not up to raising your kids despite all the things you dont like about the world, dont have kids. Its not the rest of societies responsibility to create the illusion that life is as you imagine it. For the good of _your_ kids.

  19. The bottom line is if you’re not up to raising your kids despite all the things you dont like about the world, dont have kids. Its not the rest of societies responsibility to create the illusion that life is as you imagine it. For the good of your kids.

    What, then, do you do with the kids you already have? Parenthood isn’t exactly something you can walk away from if you decide it’s not your cup of tea, or that your society and its prevailing culture make your job as a parent too difficult. Also, in any event, the parental impulse to nurture and protect children from all manner of perceived threats and bad influences, by any means necessary, is quite natural and very strong.

    Therein lies the rub. Since parents have only a limited ability to mitigate negative societal/cultural influences at the family level, ham-handed attempts to do so at the community level (as was the case in this story), or even the national level, are more or less inevitable. Why? Because the alternative, or at least the only obvious one, is to give up and accept the fact that as a parent, you really don’t have all that much control over the quality of human beings into which your children will develop, or the directions their lives will take. Accepting this truth remains anathema to many, if not most parents. You might as well ask them to take in a convicted pedophile.

  20. “Because the alternative, or at least the only obvious one, is to give up and accept the fact that as a parent, you really don’t have all that much control over the quality of human beings into which your children will develop, or the directions their lives will take.”

    When did it become a radical notion to raise your kids as best you can, instill in them the values you cherish as best you are able, and have faith that they will turn out ok? Seems like the last 50 years of sit-coms should have beat the notion into our heads by now. The problem is once you accept that as a reasonable premise you can expand ad infinitum.
    Lets be honest, riding a motorcycle without a helmet or drunk driving are the kind of things that are likely to _really_ screw your kid up, statistically speaking, but the temperance-anti Fonzi movement doesnt seem to catch any steam in this country. But the posibility of your kid spotting the male neighbors sharing a loving kiss? Thats apparently the danger. So lets send a message to the gay couple instead of the guy getting hammered sitting on porch. This isnt about protecting the kids at all, its about protecting the parents sensibilities.

  21. _the parental impulse to nurture and protect children from all manner of perceived threats and bad influences, by any means necessary, is quite natural and very strong._

    I am raising two kids in a house across the street from a gay dude. What exactly is the parental impulse that I am lacking?

    I have absolutely no sense that my being a parent gives me any special moral authority over my neighbors.

  22. I wrote (and changed the emphasis here): “…the parental impulse to nurture and protect children from all manner of perceived threats and bad influences, by any means necessary, is quite natural and very strong.”

    PD Shaw responded: I am raising two kids in a house across the street from a gay dude. What exactly is the parental impulse that I am lacking?

    I have absolutely no sense that my being a parent gives me any special moral authority over my neighbors.

    It’s not the parental impulse that you’re lacking, it’s (rightly or wrongly) the perception of either a threat or a bad influence on your kids on the part of the gay couple. The parents in the story, on the other hand, did perceive a bad influence (again, rightly or wrongly) and acted on that perception. I suppose that they either did claim moral authority to do so, or simply decided to do what they thought they must to keep this bad influence away from our kids, moral authority be damned.

    And Mark Buehner responded: When did it become a radical notion to raise your kids as best you can, instill in them the values you cherish as best you are able, and have faith that they will turn out ok?

    It didn’t become radical. Quite the opposite – it became anachronistic. Today, like it or not, we live in a culture of fear. Parents today can’t help but be aware of a dizzying array of threats and bad influences on children. Even if most of those threats have always been around, they’re no longer under the radar – the MSM has long since seen to that. I submit that the parental impulse has always been there; it’s the hyper-awareness of threats too numerous and pervasive for parents to manage on their own that is new.

  23. _it’s the hyper-awareness of threats too numerous and pervasive for parents to manage on their own that is new_

    And therein lies the rub. There are some things you really have to care about that people didn’t think about before…. hypersexuality of our culture, pedophiles, drugs….

    But many things have also been there for a long time. In the 50’s, pedophilia and child abuse laws were not enforced because they were not talked about. Victims of child abuse were often sent back to their parents. Hell, people didn’t even mention cancer because they thought ‘it reflected upon them badly’.

    Now the media is dependent on horror stories to keep parents watching. “What happened to a little girl last week is chilling…. and it could happen to your children!”. Yes, you have to be careful, but the world is not as bad as we are led to beleive. I would put down 1/million odds that your children will be ok.

    40 years ago, people were worried about ‘those catholics’. Probably making the same complaint about ‘vile kissing’ then too. Explain how you feel to your kids, discuss the outside world. That’s the best you can do.

    But to assume that any of us hold the key to ‘public righteousness’ is absurd.

  24. I live in DC in a gay neighborhood and can attest that most gays act like normal people. That’s not the issue here.

    There seems to be a rash of these ‘Gays helped me so I am now converted’ letters appearing all at once. Coincidence or campaign. True or propoganda.

    Is be kind to gay month coming up.

  25. Hey, forget about the gay/straight thing. How about the suburban busybody thing about a letter signed by all of the neighbors? I mean, how “Desperate Housewives” can you get?

    My wife won’t talk to any of the neighbors — after seven years — after getting one of those “neighbors have decided to ask you about” answering machine messages about her 78 Pontiac Firebird parked on the street. Parked legally with legal registration. Of course this person couldn’t bother to talk to her — the cowards communicated with a snippy phone machine message.

    Suburban life is filled with all manners of nuisances — the old car parked out front, the neighbor who harbors dandelions on the lawn, the barking dog, the shaggy tree hanging over the lot line, neighbor’s kids cutting through your back yard, men kissing — and a person has to decide which nuisance to ignore and when to “communicate” with those neighbors, and if you gather up a neighborhood posse to serve up a signed petition, you may have to live with the cold shoulder treatment.

  26. Timely discussion, latest “research”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20060222/hl_hsn/momsgeneticsmighthelpproducegaysons just out:

    “The research “confirms that there is a strong genetic basis for sexual orientation, and that for some gay men, genes on the X chromosome are involved,” said study co-author Sven Bocklandt, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles.”

    I suppose the IDers have a new enemy to stalk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>