The following opinion piece ran in the Danville Advocate-Messenger, my hometown newspaper last Sunday. I don't see that it has been put online yet, so here's the text:
There is nothing sillier than an angry mob of tolerant people.
In late May, the Danville City Commission passed the so-called "Fairness Ordinance." But as soon as the ordinance was passed, supporters began complaining that all their demands had not been met, and to began their vilification campaign against those who had opposed it.
On Brass Band Festival weekend, a full editorial page in the Advocate-Messenger was devoted by ordinance supporters to the argument that, in allowing Sunrise Children's Services to continue to follow its deeply held religious convictions as it helps abused and neglected children, the City Commission betrayed the cause of tolerance and diversity.
"Tolerance and diversity," in case you haven't noticed, has become the banner under which socially liberal special interest groups are now allowed to trample on the rights of those with whom they disagree.
"Tolerance," in the postmodernist political lexicon popular in faculty lounges of at places like Centre College (where much of the support for the ordinance seemed to be based), no longer means actually accommodating the views of those with whom someone might differ. Instead, it means stamping out the beliefs of those it finds intolerable.
And "diversity" no longer means encouraging the proliferation of an abundance of different viewpoints, but precisely the opposite.
Tolerance and diversity advocates who supported the "Fairness" ordinance began their campaign by attacking Sunrise Children's Services, accusing it of "bullying" for refusing to roll over and play dead when ordinance supporters tried to impose demands on Sunrise that conflicted with their religious principles.
Those who have been paying attention to what actually happened can be forgiven for wondering, first, why, after declaring that they were trying to make Danville more welcoming, supporters of the ordinance tried to run an orphanage out of town. And second, why they think anyone would believe them when, after publicly beating up on Sunrise, they turned around and accused the Sunrise of bullying.
[NOTE TO FAIRNESS SUPPORTERS: When the mean people come and try to throw the orphans out, it's the mean people who are bad, not the orphans]
The central argument of those now complaining that the Commission didn't comply with every jot and tittle of their narrow-minded agenda is that because Sunrise receives most of its funding to help needy children from government, it should come under the restrictions of the measure.
Those making this argument seem to assume that, if someone takes government money, they therefore do not enjoy the protection of the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.
Perhaps such an assumption appears self-evident to the local Tolerance Police, but it is hardly self-evident to anyone else.
Do we give up the First Amendment right to freedom of speech when we accept government funds? Do we give up the right to peaceably assemble if our paycheck comes from the taxpayers? Do we give up the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances if we enjoy state financial support?
Of course not.
Why would we think that we give up the right of free exercise in accepting government support any more than any other right?
The next move of the local Diversity Patrol was to punish their political enemies. They started a petition calling on Mayor Bernie Hunstad to resign. Hunstad's crime? Not only had he opposed their ordinance, he had the nerve to use information from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank with whom ordinance supporters disagreed.
Seriously? Just because you don't agree with tolerance and diversity dogma you forfeit your right to serve in public office?
There can't possibly be anything said in Heritage Foundation documents more outrageous and narrow-minded than what ordinance supporters have said in this newspaper.
It's hard to determine whether the mob mentality now on display by ordinance supporters is vindictive or just petty, but in either case their attempts to violate basic religious freedoms and punish their political enemies are making a mockery of their own stated principles.