Redefining Words-Part 1

If you're too tired to whine and don't want to take the time, redefine!

Too often someone doesn't have the facts on their side so they are reduced to whining in order to support their argument.  "It's unfair!"  Unable to tell us why it's unfair and unwilling to take the time to explain themselves, the political answer is often to redefine the words and terms in order to suit their slant on the topic.  

This is a three part series on a topic that I've actually discussed in years past, but with the political climate climbing toward the November elections this year, the ideological machines are in full swing redefining words, terms and phrases in order to substantiate their political agenda. 

I'm no spring chicken. I've seen some hotly disputed political races in my time, but this election takes the proverbial cake.  Not only are conservatives and liberals at each other's throats, but there is mudslinging and hate speech within EACH of the political parties.  Usually a clear winner for both Democrats and Republicans has surfaced long before this stage during the primaries.  This election has seen Democrats neck and neck between an entrenched politically seasoned female candidate and a hither to for virtual unknown admitted socialist.  Republicans haven't seen much better as they find themselves with a front runner they like only slightly better than either of the two Democrats.  

Elections and primaries aside, there are two words/terms that have been redefined in recent years which serves to confuse and confound.  There are more, but I'll get into them in parts two and three.  One is the word tolerance and the other is free speech. I'll take each in turn.

The New Tolerance: You must tolerate my choices, but I don't need to tolerate yours.  Further, you must also ACCEPT them.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines tolerance as "The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with."  Unfortunately, those who are the strongest advocates for tolerance have no tolerance for those with whom they do not agree.   

Tolerance is requested and demanded by those advocating gay marriage, Muslim requests that suit their beliefs, or a woman's right to choose, but never for 2nd amendment rights to own a gun or a Christian's right not to have to bake a cake for a gay wedding.   And not only is that not tolerated, but that Christian is called a hater for not accepting the other's beliefs.  

As a Christian, I am not intolerant if I don't accept another's faith, but I must be tolerant of their right to worship as their faith dictates. I must be tolerant of another's faith that says their restaurant cannot serve pork.  I can go elsewhere if that's what I want to eat, but I cannot make them accept my beliefs in order to force them to serve it to me.  the same must be true for my beliefs and my business.  

The New Freedom of Speech: You must allow me to speak what I want any way I want, but I'm offended by what YOU say so you can't speak.  

This tolerance which only goes one way also spills over into the new free speech rules. Freedom of speech allows for all of us to speak our minds, but it doesn't mean that there are no consequences.  The idea of free speech is to express our opinions freely--not to be mean spirited.  If I choose words filled with hate, the consequence is that I may offend someone.  I'll talk more about grace in an upcoming post, but for now I just wish to point out that HOW we say what we say is just as important if not more so than what we say.  

Too many people on both sides of the political aisle now define free speech to mean they have the right to say whatever they want however they want.  And those same people who are adamant about their freedom to speak their mind are the same ones who are so offended by another point of view as to deny that person(s) the right to their free speech.  

A few years ago on the Vanderbilt University campus, Christian groups were told they could no longer meet on campus property.  The group my daughter belonged to was spared because they met outside of campus and owned that property. Other groups were allowed to meet and freely share their beliefs, but Christians for the most part (as I understand it) were singled out.  And for that matter, if a hate group like the KKK can legally hold meetings in public places, why are peaceful, Christian groups blocked from meeting in many public areas? 

This kind of thinking always reminds me of a line from a scene in the movie Matilda (it's 30 seconds in). If you don't want to watch it, the phrase that encapsulates the new tolerance and free speech which applies "only to you if you agree with me" is this: "I'm smart; you're dumb. I'm right; you're wrong. I'm big; you're small. And there's nothing you can do about it."   

In parts two and three of this blog series, I'll share about grace as a big part of our freedom of speech and how it goes a long way to tolerance as well as a few more terms that have been redefined, but I leave you with this.  Tolerance is a two way street and should not require acceptance.  We can agree to disagree.  And free speech isn't an excuse to verbally abuse people.  

Wouldn't it be better to discuss issues with those who feel or believe differently than we do?  Think of how much we could learn.  Unfortunately, it takes more than just tolerance and freedom of speech.  It takes grace and I'll talk about that next time.  


Leave a comment