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Boycott of film is not the same as intolerance

Published August 9, 2013 7:04 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If it weren't for the amount of sway the conservative lobbyist group, Sutherland Institute, has with some Utah lawmakers, you might almost confuse some of its postings as humorous parody of the quickly diminishing anti-gay crowd.

In the latest diatribe, Sutherland's director of public policy, Derek Monson, attacks LGBT citizens who have decided to boycott the upcoming movie rendition of the popular book, Ender's Game.

The boycott is being organized by several LGBT groups in response to Ender's Game author Orson Scott Card's extremely active participation with anti-gay groups — such as the National Organization for Marriage — that seek to strip LGBT citizens of fundamental rights, like not losing their jobs just because they go home to a same-sex spouse, or the right to marriage.

Monson argues on Sutherland Institute's blog that these LGBT citizens are showing the utmost hypocrisy because they advocate for tolerance in the law but are (supposedly) being intolerant for not wanting to spend their money to see a film that will financially benefit anti-gay organizations (assuming Card continues participating in those groups).

If we devote a moment of consideration, Monson's argument falls apart pretty quickly.

First, I hope we can all agree there is a serious difference between tolerance under the law, and financially supporting organizations directly involved in stripping you of your freedoms and civil liberties.

As is often the case, Sutherland and Monson are asking us to believe that if LGBT people were to attain equality under the law, it would immediately be illegal for anyone to disagree. This is, of course, a simple scare tactic with no basis in reality.

There are plenty of laws I disagree with and frequently complain about. That's called democracy.

Even if marriage equality for gays and lesbians were to come to Utah next week, it would not stop anyone from choosing to believe being gay is a sin.

Tolerance under the law means the law treats everyone with equality, and claiming someone who advocates for tolerance under the law shows hypocrisy for not financially supporting someone they disagree with reveals a fundamental flaw in reason.

Was Orson Scott Card free to make his movie? Of course. Is Orson Scott Card going to be jailed for having his beliefs? Of course not. Since when does believing in tolerance mean I must spend my hard-earned money supporting him?

If deciding not to give cash to someone I disagree with makes me intolerant, well then I expect to see Sutherland turning over a big donation check next month to the Utah Pride Center.

What's that? Sutherland Institute disagrees with the Utah Pride Center? Tough, that's (apparently) tolerance.

While we can all enjoy a chuckle at that scenario, it's pretty illustrative of the ideas Sutherland Institute is trying to perpetuate on Utahns.

Rational people understand that being tolerant of someone else's beliefs or opinions means that those beliefs and opinions are allowed to exist, simultaneously.

Showing tolerance means Sutherland Institute and Derek Monson are free to post their opinions without me trying to ban them from the state. It does not mean I have to send them a check.

By the way, it's worth pointing out that Sutherland Institute, just a couple months ago, made headlines when it pushed for a boycott of public funding for the Sundance Film Festival.

In January, apparently, not giving money to something you disagree with was fine. In August, it's intolerant.

Eric Ethington is an LGBT activist. He lives in Salt Lake City.






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