Saturday, March 29, 2008

SPLC: Quo Vadis?

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) devotes an entire section at its website to "Teaching about tolerance." But what is tolerance? How do we define it? Dr. Montague Brown, a professor of philosophy at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, provides us with an excellent definition of tolerance. He writes, "Tolerance is the willingness to accept actions we believe to be inappropriate or even wrong because it would be worse to take action against them. Tolerance is community-oriented. Ideally, all bad behavior should cease, but it is unrealistic to think that society could succeed in enforcing this ideal. Tolerance understands this." (The One-Minute Philosopher, p. 166).

And how would we define relativism? Again, Dr. Montague: "Relativism is the assumption that there is no right or wrong. No action is considered better or worse than any other. If this is so, all actions are equally acceptable. Relativism is profoundly anti-community. If there are no standards of morality to which we should adhere, tolerance is no better than intolerance." (The One-Minute Philosopher, p. 167).

Does the SPLC possess an adequate understanding of what constitutes tolerance? Such would not appear to be the case. While the SPLC has done much good in the past, exposing hate groups across the United States, recent additions to the organization's list of hate groups has many asking the same question: Quo vadis SPLC?

"...the atheistic systems of modern times are the most frightful examples of passionate religious enthusiasm alienated from its proper identity, and that means a sickness of the human spirit that may be mortal. When the existence of God is denied, freedom is, not enhanced, but deprived of its basis and thus distorted. When the purest and most profound religious traditions are set aside, man is separating himself from his truth; he is living contrary to that truth, and he loses his freedom." (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger).

"Nowadays there is a tendency to claim that agnosticism and sceptical relativism are the philosophy and the basic attitude which correspond to democratic forms of political life. Those who are convinced that they know the truth and firmly adhere to it are considered unreliable from a democratic point of view, since they do not accept that truth is determined by the majority, or that it is subject to variation according to different political trends. It must be observed in this regard that if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism." (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, No. 46).

Relevant reading:


John Ansley said...

I don't know what the SPLC was thinking. MassResistance a hate group? In what way? Nowhere do they advocate hate toward homosexual persons. Opposing homosexual indoctrination (whether it be in the schools or elsewhere) and same-sex "marriage" because of deeply-held religious beliefs doesn't equate to hate.

Ellen Wironken said...

John, their goal is to bully faithful Christians into silence. Since they've already lost the intellectual debate, they will resort to rhetorical violence to squash the efforts of orthodox Christians who are making a difference. Mass Resistance is rightly perceived as a threat. Not because the organization is committed to violence or hate or encourages others in these areas. But because their opposition to homosexual agitprop in the Bay State has been (and continues to be) so effective.

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