Monthly Archives: April 2014

Your “Tolerance” Still Makes You A Jerk

Most people in my life know me as outspoken, honest, and quite to the point. If you’re new here and haven’t figured it out, this post will probably serve as a neon sign to that effect.

Living in the south brings with it some challenges. Racism, homophobia, and a generic disdain for anyone who”talks funny” pervades the area, with the occasional respite found around the major universities. Bars and churches compete for prevalence, often with the convenience of being right next to each other. It offers consolation and reconciliation in a somewhat ironic, but wildly appropriate cyclical relationship. The parasites of paradox, so to speak.

Among those who frequent either or both sides of the parking lot are those who loves to crow about how “tolerant” they are of “those people”. Now, allow me to clarify something before we proceed: homophobia, gender discrimination (on both sides!), and racism are particular pet peeves of mine. But this particular attitude encompasses not just Those Faggots, Those Dykes, Those N*ggers, Those ChingChings, Those Sand N*ggers, Those Jews, Those Bitches, and Those Duke/Carolina Fans. This applies to any group for whom you brag about your “tolerance”. You dislocated your shoulders patting yourselves on the back, preen like the cock of the yard. But your arrogance and misguided self-importance just makes your strutting look stupid.

Why? Why would I insult you, the ones who so graciously allow Those People to live on your streets, to shop at your stores, to worship in your churches, to learn at your schools?

Because your tolerance is bullshit. Tolerance is some politically correct doublespeak that simply means you agree that you can’t legally run them out on a rail, so you keep your hatred and your bigotry on the down-low instead of preaching it on the street corners.

Let’s look at the definitions of the word “tolerate”, shall we? We’ll quote from Merriam Webster’s website at Feel free to make sure I did it right.

  1. to allow (something that is bad, unpleasant, etc.) to exist, happen, or be done
  2. to experience (something harmful or unpleasant) without being harmed
  3. to accept the feelings, behavior, or beliefs of (someone)

However, under the “full definition” of the word, that last one is not seen. It’s simply been added to the casual usage.

Tolerating something is enduring a hardship. It’s dealing with something unpleasant that you cannot change or prevent; it’s a way of conceding. The driving emotional force is still as pejorative as the hatred and lack of respect that created this need for concession in the first place.

Nowhere in this mess is there any hint of the real emotions that would make you an actually decent human being. Understanding; true acceptance; celebration; learning. Tolerance doesn’t occur without judgment. Real acceptance does. Acceptance is what occurs when you can recognize a difference in gender, religion, culture, orientation, or sports teams, and understand that those differences do not affect the quality of a person’s character. Understanding takes the opportunity to learn about each other and embrace it without reserve. It realizes that we do not have to experience another person’s feelings or beliefs as our own in order to show respect.

Let me repeat that last bit one more time in case you missed it. We do not have to experience another person’s feelings or beliefs as our own in order to show respect. Hatred has no place in acceptance and understanding.

We tolerate a lot of things in this life, because we don’t have the power to change it. Applying this to humanity implies that people who are different than you need to be changed in order to fit your own personal image of what should and shouldn’t be. That level of arrogance isn’t just sad; it’s destructive.

The next time you brag about how tolerant you are of Those People, perhaps you should take a step back and realize that Those People aren’t the problem here. You are.


Calculating the Irrational

On this, what would’ve been Syd’s 10th birthday, I offer my thoughts from 11 months ago. The loss of this beautiful child still affects so many, but the joy and love that have spread through the communities lives on.

Many of us are doing Random Acts of Kindness in Syd’s honor today. My hope is that anyone who reads this does the same.

Fractions and Fractals

syd (Photo courtesy of Heather Tupin Photography)

It’s been a really crappy few weeks. No way around it.  I’ve wanted to blog about so many things, and yet the words wouldn’t come. My fingers would be poised over my keyboard, ready to help my head and my heart process recent events. And nothing flowed. I’d force myself to type, then shake my head and erase. Why couldn’t I find the right things to say?

My trials and tribulations were nothing out of the ordinary: some family drama, some health stuff, some more family drama, some work stuff. Regular life, regular stress. I took some time this past weekend, and went to visit the Trainer, reveling in laughter, friendship, Labrador slobber, and photography. Definitely a healing few days.

Then I arrived home. I unpacked, chatted with the kids, and decided to play a bit on Facebook before heading to ponder dinner. A…

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Ahead of the Curve — For Once!

833557858_3221186aca_oI have never been known to be fashion forward in any way. I am clueless about style, hopeless when it comes to the latest trends, and wouldn’t know what’s currently “in” or “out” if it smacked me like a swinging door.

Just one of those things. The Artist, I’m sure, will corroborate the assertion that I’m a fashion nightmare. If I get into a situation in which jeans or khakis and a solid color shirt won’t cut it, I panic and start blowing up her phone with howls for help.

However, it’s come to my attention that in one aspect, I was an Accidental Trendsetter!

Me? Trendsetter? How is this even possible? Well, the big way was that we didn’t use physical discipline and still managed to raise 3 incredible, intelligent, conscientious, creative, civic minded kids. Amazing that, eh? The other, though is something that’s hitting the news quite a bit lately. It’s called gender neutral parenting. The premise, in short, is that you don’t force predetermined stereotypes on your kid based on what’s between their legs. There are plenty of people who will recoil in horror at the idea of allowing a child to choose for themselves what colors they prefer, what toys appeal, or what clothes to wear.

Now, I’m not saying we never used pink and blue clothing, lace or trucks, or whatever. But as much as possible, we tried to remove the stereotypical gender roles and expectations from our kids’ lives in order to encourage them to explore their world without reservation, to decide for themselves what aspects of life they liked and what they didn’t. In short, we didn’t want them pigeonholed by a society that can barely manage to tie its own shoes.

Most people know from this blog (and my previous one) that by gender, I have two female children and one male child. When it comes to orientation, one is gay, one is pansexual, and one is straight; an ally. Can people tell by looking which child holds which orientation? Nope.

In a recent meeting at work that had dragged on way too long, I doodled this list of facts about my kids. Think you can tell which ones are which in the items that don’t apply to all 3?

  • All 3 received Tonka dump trucks on their first birthdays – the original metal ones, not the flimsy plastic crap
  • 2 have been admitted to the hospital for a serious illness
  • 2 have had stitches in the Emergency room
  • 1 has had broken a bone
  • All 3 have photos of them wearing a dress and heels
  • 2 have photos of them wearing a suit and tie
  • All 3 are attracted to women, albeit very different “types”
  • All 3 will receive or have received their Bachelors degrees right around their 20th birthday
  • 1 is a math genius, although the other 2 are quite proficient
  • All 3 have black belts in taekwondo
  • 1 played on a Little League baseball team
  • All 3 owned a Barbie house and Corvette
  • All 3 have tattoos; 1 has multiple piercings
  • 2 write poetry very well
  • 1 speaks a foreign language proficiently
  • 2 of them want kids
  • 2 prefer monogamous relationships to open ones
  • All 3 like to read
  • All 3 love to travel
  • 1 has learned to use a sewing machine and has sewn something independently
  • 2 have been in physical altercations
  • 1 loves to cook and has a well-developed palate
  • All 3 are Harry Potter fans
  • All 3 were invited to Duke University’s Talent Identification Program, but only 1 took the SAT at age 11

The answers might surprise you, as my kids really do not fit the traditional, stereotypical behaviors for their gender.

I may be a fashion nightmare until the day I die. I may never understand how style works. I may be clueless as to the latest technological gadgets for a while. But I will always know that in raising open minded, accepting, courageous, creative, adventurous kids, I was twenty years ahead of the game.