Friday, December 15, 2006

On the rules of the land

Okay, so I need to take a moment to dispel a myth. Somehow, Democrats have gotten the reputation of being the "party of tolerance." Maybe it's because of our unwillingness to tell people what to do when they're at home and naked. Maybe it's because of our unwillingness to accept financial prosperity as a sure-fire sign of inherent individual value. Maybe it's because of our record of standing up for the minority in the face of the majority; whatever. I want to state, here and now, that tolerance is a great thing, but I want no part in it.

I'm not tolerant! I could even be called intolerant in some situations. I've worked hard to develop my reputation as a person of rage, fanaticism, obstinacy, and willfulness, and I won't have some soft, squishy warm-fuzzy "moderate liberal" coming around and spoiling that.

I mean, hell, that's why I started this blog in the first place. It's not like newspapers were falling all over themselves offering me a column, or Charles Osgood offering me a few minutes of TV time on a Sunday morning. Here, I've got my own little country, of which I am the boss, and in which I make the rules. Sure, I try to be a benevolent dictator; I have a no-banning policy, to which I've adhered in the face of some truly obnoxious trolls. And I think I've been shown to accept dissent, contradiction, and correction rather well, even going so far as to utter that choking phrase "I was wrong" on one or two occasions. My balance of commenter ideology definitely lists to the left, but there are enough representatives from both sides of the ideological spectrum to keep things interesting.

That having been said, I am the queen, supreme high commander and empress-for-life of the Practically Harmless nation, and I don't have to tolerate jack shit if I don't want to. I don't have to honor anyone's First Amendment rights; I choose to do so because I'm cool like that. And I recognize that the First Amendment protects your right to speak, just as it protects my right to call you a jackass for what you say and to call you an idiot when you're wrong. The First Amendment is very, very important in the land of Practically Harmless.

So here, for future reference, is a list of things I do and do not tolerate. It's hardly an exhaustive or comprehensive list, which could go on for days. And it's hardly immutable, either; it's my prerogative to change my mind at will, because this is my land and in it, I am as a god. It's just a list. A fine and noble list.

Things I tolerate:
1. Dissent. I love dissent. If you disagree, make your case, and I'd love to hear it. Dissent is what keeps this blog interesting. Make your case passionately, and make it based on evidence. I may even come over to your side; I'm open-minded like that.

Things I don't tolerate:
1. Stupidity. If you're going to dissent, you'd better have something to back it up, and it had better not come from NewsMax, World Net Daily, or anything written by Jerry Falwell. If you say, "Blah," and I ask why, and you say, "Because blah, man, it's just unnatural, blah," you are an idiot, and you will be informed of that fact.

Things I tolerate:
2. Differing values. Kind of goes with dissent, also leans a bit in the freedom-of-religion direction (again with the First Amendment! w00t!). I recognize that people believe different things, and that sometimes your personal value system assigns an arbitrary rightness or wrongness to something without any real reason why. I mean, hell, I'm Catholic.

Things I don't tolerate:
2. Dogmatism. Here's where differing values get messy. I will gladly accept that you believe things that are different from my beliefs. But if you expect me to accept your argument on the basis of that difference, you've got another think coming. "Because [insert religious text here] says so" is not an acceptable argument. "Because gays are an abomination," "because God hates shrimp," "because the Holy Land was given to the Jews in the Old Testament," "because Muslims don't believe in Jesus and are going to hell," oh would you shut up. Beliefs are personal, facts are universal, and logic and reason are the bridge between. Learn to love the bridge.

Things I tolerate:
3. Friendly taking of the piss. Joshing. Teasing. Messing around. Someone's going to get called an asshat (or, as I may well steal from Feministe, an "assberet"). Someone's going to get their sanity and/or intelligence level called into question. Sometimes it's going to be nice; sometimes it's not. I'd like us to try and keep the latter to an absolute minimum, because debate is better when it's debate and not infantile name-calling (and y'all know who I'm talking to), but it happens sometimes, and we deal.

Things I don't tolerate:
3. Bigotry. Allow me to take a moment to lay down a few house rules for teasing and/or insulting people in the land of Practically Harmless. The n-word is right out. I don't like it, I don't use it, I don't want to hear it. Implications that a person is gay and/or a woman as a method of insult? Also out. There is nothing wrong with being gay, being a woman, or, for that matter, being a lesbian, and to use "Oh, there's nothing gay about that. Noooothing at aaaaaall" or "Stop being such a girl" as an insult indicates otherwise. I'm not a fan of the word "cunt," but I know that if I made that an absolute rule, I'd never see my brother again.

Things I tolerate:
4. Puppies, deep snow, mulled cider, Jack Daniel's and ginger ale, Humphrey Bogart movies (except for The African Queen, snore), pecan pie, really horrible sci-fi movies, rainy days, the Georgia Bulldogs, Howie Day, low-flying planes when you drive past the airport, alstroemeria, and the cheese biscuits at Jim & Nick's, among others.

Things I don't tolerate:
4. Hatred. The following arguments will be shot down automatically, because they're old, they're stale, they're played out, and most of them have long since been debunked. So don't bother arguing that:
- Gay parents will molest their children and/or raise them gay.
- Women shouldn't work because they need to be having babies.
- Gay marriage will start a "slippery slope" that will lead inevitably to polygamous and/or box turtle marriage; I've probably posted four times on why this is a dumb argument, but people keep pulling it out.
- The will of the voters is supreme; we've all had history classes, we all know that the "will of the voters" in the 1950s would leave us with segregated water fountains and anti-miscegenation laws, we can all leave that argument in the box.
- Muslims are more prone to violence than comparably passionate Christians.
- Poor people are poor because they're lazy and/or worthless.
- Women only have abortions because they're sluts, and women get intact D&Es like, all the time as a convenient, inexpensive and painless method of birth control.
- The government can't possibly keep us safe without taking away our civil liberties.
- Not-endorsing something is exactly the same as oppressing it.
- Religious doctrine is a reasonable basis for legislation.
- The Constitution is just a symbol.

So there you have it: intolerance at its finest. And I'm proud to tolerate and, as noted, not tolerate these things. They add up to a fair representation of my values. And as queen, supreme high commander and empress-for-life of Practically Harmless, I feel perfectly comfortable imposing my values on my people. If you don't like it, nobody's keeping you here.

But I'd be awfully glad if you'd stay. Look! I made cookies!

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