In an effort to answer questions about Indiana’s new “Religious Freedom” law, Governor Mike Pence asks,
“Is tolerance a two-way street or not? You know, there's a lot of talk about tolerance today in this country having to do with people on the left…”
Well, I describe myself as one of those “people on the left”… and. as a matter of fact I have been a strong proponent of tolerance. So… I have to say the question Governor Pence asks is very pertinent, well worth contemplating, and not easily answered.
My first instinct is to say, “Of course tolerance should be a two way street.” That is the premise of the Golden Rule. Tolerate others as you would have them tolerate you. But in fact, it DOES NOT say tolerate others as they actually tolerate you. It says, tolerate others without regard for how they treat you in the hope your tolerance of them will inspire them to reciprocate with the tolerance you hope to receive.
Governor Pence implies that people claiming to be proponents of tolerance but opposing this law are hypocrites. In effect he is saying… If you want to say you are tolerant, you must be willing to tolerate my intolerance of you and others.
Considering my personal Golden Rule philosophy, I have to say this is a pretty well-crafted argument. However, with more consideration of Governor Pence’s question I can see my first instinct is flawed. As much as I believe in the Golden Rule… as much as I am a proponent of tolerance… those guiding principles are not absolutes… at least not for me.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…~ from the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence
The Indiana law is a very dangerous law which threatens to undermine the foundation of the rights granted in the Constitution to EVERY US citizen. This law attempts to suggest the right to “Religious Freedom” trumps all other rights. If allowed to stand, people will be able to use religious freedom as the basis for having everything just as they want it simply by saying, “This is what my religion requires.” This includes the right to discriminate against people they don’t like.
From the words written in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence I derive this… It is the responsibility of the “Governments” to ensure the rights of ALL citizens are protected equally. This means no right, including the right to “Religious Freedom”, can be used to infringe the rights of other citizens.
So… To answer your question Governor Pence… NO!!! Tolerance is not always a two way street!