EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – JULY 18, 2007
A VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS
By Rich Trzupek
Just so we’re clear: Wiccans are stupid. Or perhaps it’s better to say that anybody who practices the Wiccan “religion” is behaving stupidly. They may be intelligent, caring individuals who contribute a lot to society, but this particular aspect of their existence is rock-solid dumb.
Now that this has been said, the question is up to you dear readers: Is the above paragraph intolerant? Your opinion here is sincerely desired and, if you’d care to contribute, will be published in a future column (assuming we’re not swamped by hundreds of responses – which seems unlikely – but in which case we’ll only publish the most thoughtful of thoughts).
Your humble correspondent recently expressed the above opinion, perhaps in more colorful language, but you get the jist. My audience– people I respect and care for–told me in no uncertain terms that I was horribly intolerant in my views. And that got me thinking, what exactly does “intolerant” mean?
I understand–indeed I appreciate– the fact that the Constitution guarantees freedom of worship. I do not advocate outlawing Wiccan beliefs, or denying adherents employment on the basis of their beliefs. I don’t think that Wiccans should be stoned to death, or burned at the stake, which would probably be more appropos, come think of it.
I’d gladly invite a Wiccan to a party, or buy him or her a beer, provided he or she was an interesting guy or gal (which most people are). But I reserve the right to believe that they believe in something really dopey.
And, for the record, allow me to say that I don’t think that every religion other than my own (Catholicism) is stupid. I respect the beliefs of Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Protestants and Muslims (assuming they’re not of the “let’s blow people up to get our way” Muslim variety). Hell, I even respect atheists. I think they’re wrong, but there is a certain intellectual honesty to atheism. Atheists demand absolute proof, and that’s fine. If you can’t handle the idea of faith, at least be honest about it.
But Wiccans? They embrace a mish-mash of cruddy, long-discarded tenants that manage to discard both the best of faith and science. It’s a Harry Potter religion; entertaining and comforting–in a sense anyway–but without any real intellectual or spiritual basis. It’s a waste of both brain and soul and therefore is, in my view, entirely stupid. Or, as a buddy of mine observed: “Dungeons and Dragons is a game, not a religion.”
Wiccans will tell you that they are part of the fastest growing “religion” in the United States. As if that means something. We’re a nation of fads. At one time or another, we embraced pet rocks and we thought hula-hoops were the coolest form of entertainment ever. Hell, “Baywatch” was a mega-hit at one point of time. Popularity defines neither spirit nor intellect.
In that context, what’s wrong with calling Wiccans “stupid?” Where is it written that tolerance equals acceptance? Tolerance means that you will grant everyone–even the stupid–the same rights that you, yourself enjoy. When we try to define tolerance as the practice of pretending that we agree with everybody, all of the time–even when we don’t–it’s not tolerance at all, it’s pandering.
There’s a parallel of sorts in race relations. For some insane reason, it’s only OK–in some quarters–to dislike a white man these days. If you dislike a particular woman, you’re in danger of being called sexist. If you dislike a particular person of color, you’re a racist.
Well no. Doesn’t that attitude degrade both women and minorities? It presupposes that only white males should be judged as individuals. If we’re all equal, and I believe we are, than doesn’t that mean that we enjoy an equal distribution of jerks? Isn’t it racist to believe that a person with a particular skin color can’t be a jerk?
Yet, I’ve lost count of the number of times that some well- meaning, guilt-ridden white suburbanite has accused me of being a racist for slamming jerks like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
It’s hard to swallow the criticism. I’m a guy who grew up on the south side of Chicago, who rode the Dan Ryan L to an inner city school and who tutored in the projects. And I’m taking pipe from some suburban white bread whose black experience has consisted of inviting a black doctor who dared to move into his privileged subdivision to the summer block party? Puh-lease.
Everyone has the right to have their opinion, no matter how ridiculous that opinion may be. That’s part of what makes America great.
But the rest of us get to have our opinions too. And some of our opinions may be that their opinions are just stupid. It’s OK to say that Wicca is a joke religion. It’s OK to call Al Shapton a waste of hair spray.
It works both ways. Deal with it. It’s not intolerant, it’s America.
Or do you disagree?