The Year of Intolerant Liberalism? Not so Much

Last updated on July 17th, 2023 at 06:05 pm

Is anyone here familiar with the idea that “2014 may be remembered as the year of intolerant liberalism, also dubbed the new intolerance, dogmatic liberalism and illiberal liberalism”?

No, I didn’t think so. I wasn’t either.

But that’s what Napp Nazworth at The Christian Post tells us in his 33 Examples of Intolerant Liberalism in 2014, which I like to call the “We have Rights and You Don’t” list, for reasons I shall demonstrate below.

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Nazworth lists them for us “in no particular order” he says, so I will just follow down and make a few comments as I go.

1. Duck Dynasty. I love this one. Who knew that Duck Dynasty, a prime example of Religious Right intolerance casting everybody who is NOT a certain type of Christian as the Other, was a victim of intolerance? Yes, Nazworth is right: Phil Robertson got suspended from Duck Dynasty, but this is only because he was spewing anti-gay intolerance (Nazworth characterizes these as “controversial remarks”).

As events proved, A&E was right to suspend him and wrong to let him go back to work, because though this was framed by the Religious Right as an attack on free speech, what it really ended up being was Phil Robertson using his 15 minutes of fame to attack gays, and in the process saying the Bible says a bunch of stuff it doesn’t say.

And then Phil Robertson told the Republican Leadership Conference that,

“You lose your religion, you lose your morality, you lose your freedom. You cannot be right for America if you are not right with God.”

That’s right: if you’re not a Christian like him, you’re not really an American. How is that not intolerance? And if that is not, how about when he said that Muslims must convert or die? On top of it all, he wants to marry underage girls.

Such noted agents of intolerance as Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Fox News supported Phil Robertson, but millions of people – half of his audience – voted with their remote controls and stopped watching. If Phil Robertson was, as is pointed out, exercising his First Amendment rights to free speech, so too were these people.

What you have to wonder – you know, from a sane perspective – is why is it intolerance for people to condemn Phil Robertson’s hate speech, but not intolerance to condemn those people who condemned it? Why is it not intolerance to condemn the Dixie Chicks but not intolerance to condemn Phil Robertson? Hypocrisy much?

The Phil Robertson imbroglio is certainly the most obvious example of the moral relativism of the Religious Right in recent memory.

2-9 are all examples of how righteous people are being persecuted for hating gays like the Bible says, you know, that whole “religious freedom” shtick bigots use where they have the freedom and you don’t?

I’ll just list them here for you:

2. HHS Continues to Force Americans to Support Products for Which They Have Ethical Objections
3. New Mexico Photographer Forced Out of Business for Declining to Photograph Same-Sex Wedding
4. Colorado Baker Forced to Make Gay Wedding Cake
5. NY Family Fined for Refusing to Host Same-Sex Wedding on Their Farm, Ordered to Undergo “Re-Education Classes”
6. Washington Florist Required to Serve Same-Sex Wedding
7. Christian T-Shirt Printer Ordered to Take “Diversity Training” for Refusing to Make Gay Pride Shirts
8. Gay Couple Sued Pennsylvania Wedding Venue for Refusing to Marry Them
9. Idaho Wedding Chapel Faced Fines for Refusing Gay Weddings, Before City Backed Off

Number 10 is truly laughable, as Nazworth claims the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is not itself an example of religious-based intolerance:

10. State Laws to Protect Religious Freedom Under Attack. The RFRA was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1997 because, basically, it gave special rights to Christians. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote,

RFRA’s most serious shortcoming, however, lies in the fact that it is so out of proportion to a supposed remedial or preventive object that it cannot be understood as responsive to, or designed to prevent, unconstitutional behavior. It appears, instead, to attempt a substantive change in constitutional protections, proscribing state conduct that the Fourteenth Amendment itself does not prohibit.

And this last part makes a mockery of Nazwroth’s heading:

All told, RFRA is a considerable congressional intrusion into the States’ traditional prerogatives and general authority to regulate for the health and welfare of their citizens, and is not designed to identify and counteract state laws likely to be unconstitutional because of their treatment of religion.”

Yes, the RFRA itself attacked state laws protecting religious freedom.

But if Nazworth did not completely ignore the facts, he wouldn’t have a list, as his next gem demonstrates:


11. Gay Activist Groups Withdraw Support for ENDA Because It Protects Religious Freedom. According to Nazworth, gay groups withdrew support for ENDA (The Employment Non-Discrimination Act) when “U.S. Supreme Court supported religious freedom protections for Hobby Lobby.” But Hobby Lobby is not a person. Hobby Lobby HAS NO “religious freedom protections.” What the Supreme Court did, in violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment, is to declare corporate theocracy. So-called Christian conservatives love the Hobby Lobby Ruling because now they can be openly intolerant not only of women, but of gays, violating the Constitution all in the name of religion. The argument here seems to be that “gay groups” have an obligation to go along with persecution so that corporations can have a right to persecute them without feeling like victims of intolerance. I have no words, sorry.

12. Gordon College Under Attack After Its President Signs Letter Asking for Religious Freedom Protections in Obama’s Executive Order. Apparently, saying your religion trumps other people’s religion, or even their healthcare, is not a form of intolerance, according to Nazworth.

13. Brendan Eich Forced Out at Mozilla for Supporting Traditional Marriage. Apparently saying you can get married but other people can’t because you disapprove, is not a form of intolerance according to Nazworth.

14. Harvard Student Called for End to Tenure to Expel Conservative Professors. With the long list of examples of conservatives condemning universities as the devil’s playgrounds, I am surprised Nazworth would even bring this up. But my real question is, why is this Harvard Student guilty of intolerance if Phil Robertson is not? Is it not still simply an exercise of First Amendments rights of free speech? Or does that only protect Religious Right bigots?

You have to love Number 15:


15. HGTV Cancels Benham Brothers Show. Yes, because the Benham Brothers aren’t two of the most intolerant people you would ever not want to meet (they are not only anti-gay but they are anti-choice and if you disagree with them, you are of Satan.)

Yes, the Benham Brothers have the right to say what they said, but other people, including networks, you know, because the Hobby Lobby Ruling makes corporations, including networks, people too, have the right to different opinions. And HGTV didn’t like what the Benham Brothers were saying. The inclusion of the brothers here is not only another prime example of Religious Right hypocrisy but also of moral relativism.

In fact, the Benham Brothers are so intolerant that they even invade other peoples’ churches (it’s apparently not intolerant to call somebody else’s church a “synagogue of Satan”) and disrupt their services to spread their hate. I don’t see how that kind of behavior could ever be interpreted as tolerant. Really, Mr. Nazworth, I can’t believe you went there.

16. SunTrust Bank Cancels Benham Brothers Bank Account. What! Corporations suddenly DON’T have religious freedom? Why does the religious freedom of the Benham Brothers trump corporate personhood but the right of women to contraception does not? Hypocrisy again, and yes, moral relativism.

17. NYT Reporter Says Traditional Marriage Supporters “Unworthy of Respect,” Deserve Incivility. We just saw how the Benham Brothers say if you disagree with them on contraception and marriage equality that you are “of Satan,” which, I think, is pretty much the same thing as saying “unworthy of respect.” But this NYT reporter is intolerant, but the Benham Brothers are not? Yes, hypocrisy and moral relativism AGAIN.

18. Houston Mayor Subpeonas Pastor’s Sermons, Private Communication About Homosexuality. The irony here is that the entire controversy centers on the mayor’s anti-discrimination stance (she herself is a lesbian). Apparently, for Nazworth, all the hate and vitriol heaped on Mayor Annise Parker is not an example of intolerance. I have no choice: I call hypocrisy and moral relativism.

19. Wikipedia Editors Attempt to Remove Entry for the Federalist After Neil deGrasse Tyson Flap. This is really quite funny. Do you remember when Michele Bachmann listed John Quincy Adams as a Founding Father – only he was not – and her fans tried to change Wikipedia as though that would make John Quincy Adams a Founding Father? Do you remember when Sarah Palin said that Paul Revere’s ride was to “warn the British,” and her fans tried to change Wikipedia to say that yes, Paul Revere was riding to warn the British? Yes, hypocrisy and moral relativism.

20. Kickstarter Censors Fundraiser for Abortionist Gosnell Documentary. Another case of some corporations having religious freedom and some not. It is interesting how quickly corporations suddenly lose their person-hood when they disagree with the Religious Right’s culture war agenda.

Ten Commandments

21. Philosophy Professor Says Global Warming Skeptics Should Be Imprisoned. Nazworth complains, “Lawrence Torcello, assistant professor of philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology, wrote an op-ed arguing for criminal penalties for those who criticize scientific claims about global warming. In one of the examples he used, the penalty was imprisonment.”

Wait a second, we shouldn’t punish people for lying, even though God says in the Ten Commandments that we must punish people for lying, but it is okay for Steven L. Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, AZ to say God commands us to kill gays, and that we must kill gays to end AIDS, and it is okay for Oklahoma Tea Party candidate Scott Esk to say we should execute gays simply because they are gay:

“I think we would be totally in the right to do it. That goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.”

Judicial murder is fine, but putting somebody in prison is wrong? Verdict: Hypocrisy and moral relativism.

22. Ezra Klein Criticized for Hiring Gay Man With Different Opinions Than Most Gays. Again, so people have the right of free speech unless it is somebody you don’t approve of? Hypocrisy and moral relativism.

23. Marquette University Trains Employees to Report Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage as Harrassment. So if you’re harassed over same-sex marriage, you have to turn the other cheek, but Christians who are told by Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior to turn the other cheek, don’t have to turn the other cheek? Oh boy do I call hypocrisy and moral relativism!

24. Marquette Professor Suspended for Criticizing Teacher Who Will Not Allow Students to Voice Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage. Never mind that Professor John McAdams was not actually suspended. McAdams was relieved of his duties with pay while the university reviewed his potential violation of “clearly outlined rules of conduct, specifically as they relate to the faculty-student relationship” because of comments made by him in his blog about a teaching assistant.

In fact, Colleen Flaherty at Inside Higher Ed tells us that, “Justin Weinberg, an associate professor of political philosophy and ethics at the University of South Carolina, wrote a blog post on his popular philosophy blog, the Daily Nous, calling the backlash against the graduate student a political ‘smear campaign,’ and that “he suspected that sexism was at play in her being a target of such intense criticism.” Yes, there is much more to this than Nazworth would wish you to know.

What this amounts to, in essence, is that Nazworth is saying the graduate student is intolerant to tell a student he can’t make homophobic remarks in her class, but it is not intolerant to attack the graduate student for being a woman. Hypocrisy and moral relativism.

By the way, if you want to see genuine intolerance, and evidence of that sexism, look at the comments at the bottom of the Daily Nouse piece:



25. Radical Feminist Conference Forced to Change Venues After Transgender Opposition. Nazworth is finally upset that somebody is threatening violence over something they don’t agree with. Yes, hypocrisy and moral relativism.

26. Christian Groups Booted From California College Campuses. Oh no: “California state universities, the largest state university system in the country, will no longer recognize Intervarsity Christian Fellowship as a student group because the organization requires its leaders to hold beliefs consistent with the organization’s beliefs.”

Wait a second: Hobby Lobby is a person, but California State Universities are not? Another way of looking at this would be to say that InterVarsity Christian Fellowship wanted to have the right to discriminate, which is in violation of CSU’s non-discrimination policy.

The irony here is that rather than turn the other cheek, InterVarsity supporters want to ‘Derecognize’ Colleges That Discriminate Against Christians who want to discriminate against people they don’t like. Okay, you lost me here…again, your rights trump everybody else’s rights? Even if CSU is discriminating against you, you have the right to discriminate but nobody else does? Sorry, you made me do it: hypocrisy and moral relativism.

27. “It’s OK to Hate Republicans,” University of Michigan Professor Wrote. Nazworth says Susan Douglas, professor of communications at the University of Michigan “vilified” Republicans in an op-ed. You did not just go there, Mr. Nazworth. One Republican, New Hampshire GOP Chair Jennifer Horn, recently said liberals should be drowned: “push their heads under over and over again until they cannot breathe anymore, until the elections are over on Tuesday night and we’ve won it all!”

So murdering your political opponents is not intolerant, but hating them is? And since when does the Religious Right get to complain about hate? According to Nazworth’s own logic, he’s being intolerant of Susan Douglas, who, after all, has done no more than some of the people he has defended here. She’s a hater but the Benham Brothers are not? Hypocrisy and moral relativism.

28. Brandeis University Rescinded and Honorary Degree and Disinvited Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Here is the problem: Brandeis University has a right to disagree with Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s contention that Islam is a “destructive, nihilistic cult of death.” Brandeis University said, “We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” So Hobby Lobby can have core values, but Brandeis University cannot? It’s not intolerant of Ali to condemn Islam, but it is intolerant of Brandeis University to object to her intolerance? Bam! Hypocrisy and moral relativism.

The rest are more of the same, further examples of just exactly how hypocritical and morally relativistic Nazworth’s list is:

29. Brown University Disinvited Ray Kelly
30. Berkeley Students Attempted to Get Bill Maher Banned From Delivering a Commencement Address
31. Stanford Students Tried to Ban Ryan Anderson’s Appearance
32. Smith College Disinvited Christine Lagarde as Commencement Speaker
33. Azusa Pacific Disinvited Charles Murray

In its entirety, this list is an example not of liberal intolerance, but conservative intolerance, living proof of the Religious Right’s definition of religious freedom: that it is okay to hate, it is okay to be intolerant, but it is intolerant to object, it is intolerant to wish not to be associated with that hate. The haters have First Amendment rights. Those who object do not. The Religious Right has religious freedom. The rest of us do not.

That’s a hard sell, because the First Amendment says they are wrong, that freedom of religion and freedom of speech do not belong to one group only, but are the common property of all Americans alike.

Hobby Lobby Image from Patheos

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