Nobody would have anticipated that Robert Dear would blurt this out in open court:
“I’m guilty. There’s no trial,” the accused mass killer Robert L. Dear Jr. told a startled courtroom here on Wednesday. “I’m a warrior for the babies.”
That he was against abortion does not distinguish him from millions of others. That his belief manifested in his going to Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs and opening fire does. Nobody who favors pro-choice walks into an obstetrician’s office and starts shooting people because they deliver babies rather than abort them. There is an asymmetry to the competing beliefs, and it seems like all the deadly crazies adhere to one side rather than the other.
Yet, this is America, and we are entitled to believe whatever we want to believe. We don’t need permission to believe in dogma, no matter how silly it may seem to others. It’s part of our bundle of rights, and you’re no more entitled to “thought police” someone else than they are entitled to “thought police” you. What no one is entitled to do is kill people in furtherance of their beliefs.
There is a school in Tennessee named Carson-Newman University. Until today, I had never heard of it. After today, I won’t give it another thought. It’s a Christian college, and it makes no bones about that fact.
“This is who we are as a Christian university,” O’Brien opined. “These are our religious principles. And in a changing world, we would like to reaffirm that this is who we are and who we intend to be.”
What this means is that it overtly discriminates in favor of students that maintain its religious values, and against students who don’t. And so, it sought and obtained a waiver from the Department of Education to Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination in educational institutions, along with whatever nonsensical crap Catherine Lhamon makes up from time to time.
The waiver allows the school to ban pregnant students, women who have had an abortion, single mothers, LGBT students and anyone else who does not fit their religious ideology.
At a time when the very word discrimination conjures visions of intolerable oppression that compel college students to rend their clothing, Carson-Newman University President Dr. Randall O’Brien’s position could cause a massive outbreak of faux PTSD and run on puppies and Play Doh.
When asked to explain why the university could possibly want a waiver to allow it to engage in discrimination, O’Brien equivocated.
“You’re the president,” WVLT’s Lauren Davis noted. “You’re not going to file something unless you understand it.”
“Yeah, I understood that our legal counsel said that this would further establish our identity as a religious school, a Christian school.”
But when Davis pointed out that the purpose of the waiver was to allow the school to discriminate, O’Brien disagreed.
“I don’t know how it would be,” the president insisted.
Despite the less-than-informative interview, which may mean that Carson Newman University isn’t nearly as bad as its waiver suggests, or that O’Brien is kinda dense, the waiver was granted and the school can engage in rank discrimination against women, gays, and most things that involve having college-appropriate fun. But that’s just my belief, and while I’m entitled to it, it means nothing to anyone else.
In the scheme of social justice, there are few types of discrimination that don’t evoke immediate shrieks of horror. There is discrimination against suspect classifications in employment that is unlawful. There is discrimination based on gender in education that is unlawful. And then there is discrimination against a wide variety of other things, ranging from fat shaming to unattractiveness to belief systems that conflict with our own.
For people who value the eradication of discrimination in certain forms over the belief in sky zombies, a university like Carson Newman will seem outrageous. There is a hypocrisy to this knee-jerk reaction to discrimination, both because we all discriminate (and we always have: want to be forced to date people you find unattractive? Discrimination!!! See how that works?) and because it’s nothing more than discriminating against people who believe something different than we do.
But if a university can so flagrantly discriminate on the basis of religious belief, what’s to stop a college from establishing itself as “whites only”? The answer lies in the First Amendment’s protection of religion apart from other beliefs.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
Much as this may start to smell like an anachronism to those disinclined to give up reason in the name of faith, it remains a fundamental constitutional right, and nobody needs anybody else’s permission to believe in the deity of their choice, and the dogma that goes with it.
On the bright side, no one is forced to go to Carson-Newman University. No one has to share its religious beliefs. No one has to hire a graduate of the school. No one has to change their mind about whatever they believe about the inherent wrongfulness of discrimination because the folks at one university nobody ever heard of before believe otherwise.
In the name of tolerance, beliefs breed intolerance of other beliefs. So what if President O’Brien fails to see how wrong his school’s admissions policy is? It meets the sincere religious beliefs of the university, and they’re allowed to be as wrong as they want to be. Or as right as they want to be, according to which side you’re on. And that’s the point.
The mindless intolerance of intolerance, that your beliefs are right, making anyone who believes otherwise wrong, somehow justifies demands that their beliefs should not be tolerated. In the hands of a flaming nutjob like Robert Dear, this manifested in death. But in the hands of people who are disinclined to kill other people because they’re not that crazy, it’s still no more tolerant.
You want to be the tolerant person you feel you are? Then let other people believe whatever they want to believe, and worry about yourself. You have a right to believe as you want, but so do they. It’s great that you won’t do physical harm to those who disagree with you, but stop pretending that trying to silence, or worse yet, criminalize those who don’t share your “correct” views somehow makes you pure and chaste. Be the tolerant person you want to be, even if you’re never going to be a virgin again.
H/T Chris Seaton