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Counterpoint: Feigned tolerance



How would you feel if someone in your family were called a "little fruitcake?" If you were black, how would you feel if someone said publicly that "all of your children were born out of wedlock"? Or if you're a veteran, and were facetiously called a "goddamn hero?"


If you were one of the targets of U.S. Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., you'd call it all in a day's work.


In 2003, Stark called then U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., a "little wimp" and "little fruitcake." Earlier, he falsely said former Oklahoma U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts' "children were all born out of wedlock." Then, in 2004, a veteran who spent a year in Kosovo had the audacity to criticize Stark's position on war funding, and the aggregate result was a long diatribe left on the vet's answering machine. Stark's message, insulting National Guardsman Daniel Dow's intelligence and patronizing him, reportedly included the comment "you think you're such a great goddamn hero."


Pretty offensive, isn't it? Not very "tolerant," coming from a member of the progressive movement that claims to corner the market on tolerance, free love and peace. The hypocrisy stacks up so fast around here these days, you need wings to rise above it. The purveyors of peace at all costs are now as filled with vitriol as those they accuse of spewing the same.


Now, Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, is in the crosshairs of the same intolerant preachers of tolerance because she disagrees with the homosexual lifestyle and made a few pretty outlandish statements. Of course, I do not believe homosexuality is more dangerous to America than Islamic terrorism, but I do believe it is Kern's right to say she believes it to be so.


The Constitution does not distinguish between "hate speech" and "free speech" as some would wish, and as a matter of fact, our Founding Fathers intended all speech to be protected, with a few exceptions (libel, slander, et al). In the now-historic Supreme Court ruling on Hustler Magazine Inc. v. Falwell, many social conservatives were extraordinarily upset at the depiction of Jerry Falwell in less-than-favorable light, but the court ruled in favor of the First Amendment.


It is convenient for the so-called tolerant ones to label any speech they find distasteful as "hate speech," because it gives them an emotional out that intellectually they would not otherwise be able to justify. Kern now gets to face the wrath of these so-called tolerant ones in our culture, such as this less-than-tolerant statement from the Web site, referring to her pedigree and education: "The woman (Kern) had two strikes against her social development from the start."


How tolerant. Whether we agree with how someone uses their constitutionally protected right or not, it is still a constitutionally protected right. And, in this particular case, the so-called lovers of tolerance have proven themselves to be anything but tolerant.


But I support their right to feign tolerance.


Black is the host of WILD Oklahoma radio and television.

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