In some ways, culture in America has changed for the worse

To the editor:

It isn’t often that I feel provoked to write on political matters. There are so many more important things in life than politics and all things political. However, there are things even I cannot let slide without comment.

In a Feb. 15 column, editor Per Peterson proceeded to wax eloquently of the courage of Michael Sam in “coming out” as a homosexual football player. After more or less promising not to compare him to Jackie Robinson, he then spends eight paragraphs doing just that. And not only doing that, declaring all those who aren’t so thrilled with American society’s recent love affair with homosexuality as “homophobes.”

Frankly, I am offended. I want an apology: a real one, not one of those “If I have offended any one with my statements” baloney but a real mea culpa.

Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of our society today is a lack of tolerance. Oh yes, there are those who yell loudly about how we must all be tolerant of one another but as is often the case, those who scream loudest for tolerance are those most intolerant of those who do not believe what they believe. Their intolerance escapes their own scrutiny.

Consider Secretary of State John Kerry. In remarks in Jakarta, Indonesia, over the weekend, he called all those who doubt man-caused climate change as “those who are burying their heads in the sand.” Further, he called scientists and others who doubt the reality of man-made climate change like “people who insist the earth is flat.” He said, “We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific facts.”

Really? So now if one does not follow the party line they are “shoddy,” “tiny,” “extreme,” and “hijackers of the climate conversation.” What happened to public debate, the right to dissent, the right to have a different opinion and be respected in spite of having a differing belief? This administration is constantly berating Americans to be tolerant yet its Secretary of State reveals what is really in his heart and that of the administration when its citizens don’t follow the prescribed belief system, whether they be ordinary tax payers, scientists, or a combination of both.

There was a time in our great country when healthy debate was encouraged and welcomed, a time when “enemies” on an issue could still be respected and embraced as friends. No longer. Our culture in America has become coarse, angry, intolerant and hateful on both sides of the political spectrum. Though I am not a supporter of homosexual marriage, I have friends who choose this lifestyle. I love them, I respect them, they understand my position, and me theirs. We are friends but I don’t agree with their choices. But they don’t hate me or try to silence me, unlike so many others in the public spectrum.

There has been near record Antarctic ice formation this last year. There was a record low number of tornadoes in 2013. According to a government report, “droughts have, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the U.S. over the last century,” to cite a few facts. I am not convinced that we are not just seeing normal weather fluctuations that have occurred for centuries, yet for my skepticism I will be labeled a “denier” by my government and other “global warmers.” I am not convinced, I have a healthy doubt, I will not swallow the Kool-Aid without further research on my part and this should be encouraged, not discouraged, as Secretary Kerry would like. That is what fuels good and valuable scientific research. Anything else is state sponsored religion.

A few years ago I was asked to be on a panel at SMSU. The debate was centered on creationism and evolution. In my opening remarks, I made it clear that no personal attacks would be tolerated, as these attacks are often the last resort of a failing argument. In other words, if your argument isn’t gaining traction, then attack the person. Despite my plea, the debate quickly became everything it should not be: what are your qualifications, you aren’t a “real” scientist, who is sponsoring you, and so on. Pastors and professors took turns attacking the person and not the argument. And so it is today.

I fear the America so many of us love has taken its leave. Those public pavilions in the parks of so many cities north and south, the sites of great public debate over everything from revolt against the British, to women’s rights, slavery, and much more have become silent. And if the “tolerance” police has its way, so will most Americans become as well.

John Frerich