It’s amazing to me how certain segments of our society who are always advocating tolerance tend to be the LEAST-tolerant of all when it comes to others criticizing or even questioning their beliefs.
Another example of that has surfaced in the wake of this week’s vote by North Carolinians to make marriage between one man and one woman the only constitutionally recognized union in the state.
Naturally, this event touched off the usual nationwide debate over whether same-sex marriage should be allowed or not. Among those weighing in on the matter have been Barack Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Meanwhile, North Carolina has been taking a bashing from various and sundry comedians and political pundits for its supposedly backward stance on the issue.
I have said in this space before that I don’t care what consenting adults — of any sexual persuasion — do in the privacy of their own homes and believe people should be allowed to practice alternative lifestyles free of ridicule.
But in terms of incorporating this into public policy, those who favor same-sex marriage have got to understand that the will of the people at large must be taken into account. That’s how things work in a democracy, and those who don’t support this principle should consider the situation in places such as China, where expressing non-traditional points of view isn’t permitted at all.
Certainly democracy was on full display in the Tar Heel State Tuesday when voters approved the concept of traditional marriage by a large margin, while rejecting same-sex unions. Some 61 percent, or 1.3 million voters, were in favor of the marriage amendment, compared to 39 percent (833,120) opposed.
Now, with all the publicity that surrounded this measure over the past month, you’d have to figure those on both sides of the debate had an ample opportunity to adequately make their case and encourage their respective supporters to cast ballots. We’ve seen this same process work with individual political candidates and issues such as mixed-drink proposals that have been held in various communities.
When the votes are counted, people generally accept the results — knowing that whether they like the outcome or not, the democratic process has been allowed to function.
Somehow, such a reconciliation has not been achieved in the aftermath of North Carolina’s marriage vote. This has surfaced not only around the state and nation but in Surry County, where the marriage amendment drew even more support than North Carolina as a whole — passing by a margin of 78 to 62 percent.
Yet this reality hasn’t stopped a local gay-rights advocate to vow that the battle over same-sex marriage has only just begun and North Carolinians are in for a long fight.
Excuse me? Didn’t we just have a referendum on this, and hasn’t the will of the people already been fully exhibited?
Had the vote gone the other way, I’m sure there would’ve been lots of commentary about how well the democratic process worked in this case and what a great, progressive example North Carolina has set for the rest of the nation.
As it is, we’re being ridiculed as ignorant and backward, although 31 of the 50 states now have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.
However, what’s been really disturbing is that while it’s seemed perfectly fashionable to bash North Carolina and attack those who supported the marriage amendment, people taking the opposite view have been vilified.
For example, Bristol Palin — the daughter of former GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin — has been blasted over comments in which she basically had the unmitigated audacity to speak out against Obama’s decision to support gay marriage.
Among Bristol Palin’s remarks: “We know that in general kids do better growing up in a mother/father home. Ideally, fathers help shape their kids’ worldview.” There is really nothing wrong with such a statement.
Yet she was attacked by various celebrities, including one who said, “Bristol should keep her uneducated ignorant mouth shut,” and called her a hypocrite for having a child out of wedlock.
Well, Bristol Palin might not be the next Albert Einstein, but she has as much right to express her opinion on various issues, and not be hammered in return, as any other public figure — particularly liberal-leaning celebrities.
Since different activists representing one downtrodden group or another are always preaching tolerance, shouldn’t this also include being tolerant of those with opposing views? Of course, anyone can see that a double-standard exists, in which tolerance is reserved only for certain minority groups or radical elements who always get a free pass simply because of that status.
And when THEY have the opportunity to be tolerant, what happens? These folks instead unleash a torrent of criticism against anyone who doesn’t adhere to their views. If Bristol Palin is truly “uneducated” and “ignorant,” shouldn’t some of their great compassion come her way as well?
Those who are whining about this week’s vote in North Carolina remind me of the bad losers we all encountered while growing up and playing various childhood games.
I guess the only way to satisfy them is to hold a new vote on gay marriage every other month, or somehow rig the situation until they finally win — if ever.
Tom Joyce is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at 719-1924 or email@example.com.