I am very active on FB, and while I tend to lean to the conservative side of things, many of my friends and family members are much more socially and politically liberal than I am. That's actually kind of cool - I enjoy being exposed to different ideas from all sides of the issues, and I love a good healthy debate. However, during the flood of images and opinions about the whole Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner thing, something emerged that I have seen before, and it really bothers me.
Our culture is perhaps more obsessed with sexual and gender issues than it ever has been before. "Coming out" as a closet homosexual, transsexual, bisexual, or whatever other deviation from the norm that was once kept concealed from the world is suddenly hailed as the highest form or courage there is. I have a bit of an issue with that.
I'm 51 years old. I come from the home town of the legendary Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of World War II (Never heard of him? Google his name and read about some of the incredible valor that this son of Hunt County displayed on the battlefield. You will be amazed! But I digress.). Another of our hometown heroes was Monty Stratton, a professional baseball player who lost his leg in a hunting accident and came back and pitched in the major leagues on a wooden leg back in the 1940's. To me, those two men showed true courage - along with traditional heroes like George Washington, who fought an 8 year war against the most powerful nation on earth and accepted no salary for doing so; and Abraham Lincoln, who came from the humblest of origins and wound up saving the American union and crushing slavery in the process. These were men of courage, and they are my heroes.
As for the current social trends of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, hailing those who publicly reveal their sexual preferences in the media as paragons of virtue, and middle aged men who have had wives, fathered children, and lived as males for decades and then suddenly decide to have themselves surgically altered into another gender - well, I disapprove.
And that is all. I don't hate anyone, I don't want to kill anyone, I don't want to see gays lynched or Bruce Jenner's Olympic medals revoked (that's just plain silly!). But I don't really approve of men having their genitalia removed, I don't approve of redefining the world's oldest and most successful social institution, and I don't approve of sexual deviancies being paraded in public every time you turn on the TV.
The thing is, because I disapprove of some of these things, there are many who would label me as either A. a "hatemonger", or B. "intolerant." As I said, I don't hate anyone (OK, I'll admit, those fanatical jihadists that call themselves ISIS really do their best to make me hate them, but I still try not to hate them as individuals, even though I do hate their bloodthirsty creed and horrible actions). Many of my best friends and some of my relatives are the biggest cheerleaders for Bruce Jenner's transformation and for the political cause of "marriage equality", and while we have some lively discussions about these things, they are my friends. They are my family. I love them. Equating disapproval with hatred is perhaps the biggest problem I have with many of the younger generation today. You don't have to approve someone's decisions in order to love them and respect them as a fellow child of God.
Now, as for "intolerant" - the definition of "tolerance" is to put up with something you don't necessarily like or approve. To be intolerant is to refuse to do so. I put up with all kinds of things I disapprove of. I have friends who are gay, friends who have radically different social and political views from me. I tolerate them all. The problem is that, for many activists, whether it be on LGBT issues or political issues or global warming or whatever, when they say "tolerance" what they really mean is approval. To them, if you do not give them fist-pumping, high-fiving approval of their words, actions, and political sentiments, then you are no better than the Klansmen who murdered civil rights workers and bombed black churches in the South in the 1960's. Equating tolerance with approval, and disapproval with intolerance, is the second great error I see spread across social media.
Disapproval is just that. It means that I do not personally find an action or thought process to be commendable or worthy of enthusiasm. Disagreement is just that. It means that my opinion, on the issue at hand, is different from yours. The right to disapprove and disagree is one of the most sacred tenets of a free society, and no one should be falsely labeled as an apostle of hate for exercising them.