“An attack upon our ability to tell stories is not just censorship – it is a crime against our nature as human beings.” – Salmon Rushdie
I’ve often found that those who most loudly carry the mantle of tolerance are those who are the most aggressively intolerant. How odd it is, that inversion. It’s been said that the emptiest jar rings the loudest, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s the case with these so-called tolerant individuals. Perhaps they have been focused so deeply on their own cause célèbre that it has consumed them, leaving them void of concern for others. In the pursuit of tolerance for their own behavior, they have lost all perspective, leaving them empty of everything else–they are lost in an echo chamber devoted solely to their own point of view.
An upcoming docu-series to be shown on TLC is causing the toleratti to spit molten anger, even demanding that the network pull the show from the air. According to the Daily Mail:
“Preston ‘Pret’ Dahlgren has led what might seem like a picture-perfect Mormon life: He met his high school sweetheart in Sunday school as a teenager, completed his mission and married her. He is active in the church and the proud father of two young daughters. Dahlgren also is attracted to men. His story is the subject of a new TV show called ‘My Husband’s Not Gay.’ And while it may shock some, Mormon leaders have spoken in support of the controversial series.”
The docu-series features several Mormon men who, while being attracted to others of the same gender, have decided to follow their faith to the letter, even to the point of marrying women, and starting families. The series looks quite fascinating, because nothing like it has ever been explored on film, let alone in a long-form television format. If nothing else, those who claim tolerance should be perfectly willing to allow these adult men of free will to share their stories, even if they vehemently disagree with them. But it must not be, say the toleratti.
“Meanwhile, gay-rights advocacy groups are calling irresponsible and dangerous. They want the TLC cable network to pull the plug on the program before it airs Sunday…The gay rights group GLAAD…says the show sends the wrong message and is a sad reminder of so-called gay conversion therapy, often faith-based efforts designed to change sexual orientation that can be emotionally scarring…The organization pointed to a change.org petition asking TLC to cancel the show that so far has gathered more than 80,000 signatures.”
The president of GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis, issued a statement criticizing the series because she alleges that it places LGBT youth in harm’s way by confusing them.
Let’s set the record straight. These men have decided of their own accord to behave in a certain way. Their lives are being documented by TLC. One of the critical aims of the documentary format is to shed light on subjects which may not be well understood, or even acknowledged, and “My Husband’s Not Gay” certainly fits that criteria. The series is simply putting on display something unique, and compelling.
The thrust of GLAADs argument is that the show will promote the lifestyle being chosen by the men featured in the series, and that the alleged promotion of that choice is dangerous because it may confuse gay youth. That argument is not only incorrect, but irrelevant. The series is showing reality as it exists for these men, and their families. TLC is in no way telling people that they should believe the same way, nor is it even arguing that what these men have chosen to do is a positive thing. They are simply allowing these men to tell their story. You know, because free speech, and stuff. No one is being forced to watch this; it’s not being played in schools. This isn’t state-sponsored television. This isn’t the Hunger Games, where people are gathered together under threat of force to watch state propaganda on a massive screen.
If gay teenagers and young adults see this program, and want to later pursue a similar lifestyle that is their choice to make. They are certainly bombarded with the opposing perspective on a daily basis, why should they not be allowed to merely witness the lives of those who have chosen a different path? It’s one series on one channel. Does GLAAD really believe that one series on TLC is going to do that much damage? The series is not forcing an issue, but documenting something fascinating, and—gasp—true for these men.
If we refuse to document perspectives with which we disagree because we believe it may confuse people, then we have fallen short of our own intellect, and underestimated the intellectual capabilities of others. I don’t like numerous documentaries that have promoted abortion—and in fact, they sicken me—but this is America, and we have the right to say what we believe is true, regardless of what anyone else thinks. That is the essence of freedom. But as I mentioned above, the toleratti aren’t so tolerant when it comes to beliefs with which they do not agree, which is why GLAAD is trying to bully TLC into pulling the plug on a series which merely documents a truth.
We must be free to examine different perspectives, because if we are not, we cannot properly develop our own. We must be free to be rigorously challenged by what we see, and not stifled by the PC police. To stifle freedom of speech is to smother the mind. As Henry Steele Commager said: “Censorship always defeats it own purpose, for it creates in the end the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.“