The new conservative narrative about intolerance (okay, maybe not so new) is that bigotry is not bigotry if you mean well, or if it’s because of your religion. Which is silly, and reveals the central confusion of these folks: they think that everyone cares what they think, when the problem is what they do.
A prime example is this sad-sack complaint from David French at the National Review, unsurprisingly titled “It’s not bigotry to believe homosexuality is a sin.”
Here’s the story: a Crossfit gym was planning a Pride-themes workout. The owners cancelled it. Why did they cancel it? Oh, they were quite clear:
Total health involves the body, the emotions, relationships, and the spirit. At the foundational detractor from health, as we believe God sets the parameters for, is pride. We believe that true health forever can only be found within humility, not pride.
Basically, gay is bad, you gays are not healthy, so yuck, no special workout for you. Unsurprisingly, people started cancelling their memberships, employees started quitting, and apparently the gym is closing.
The gym owners think they are not bigots, because they mean well. It’s not there intentions that are the issue, though; it’s their actions: cancelling an LGBT-themed event, and then making a statement clarifying that they were doing so because LGBT people are inherently unhealthy.
They could, of course, have thought all these things and not hosted the event, but they put their bigotry right out there, and people reacted. This is not surprising or unfair.
Which leads us to the parent company’s chief knowledge officer, who tweeted his support for the owners, explaining that he also believes that homosexuality is a sin, and by the way, the LGBT movement is a bunch of big bullies.
Unfair! says David French, since his association with Crossfit is now over. Which is not shocking; generally speaking, when your company is in the news in a controversy and one of your people goes out and throws gas on the fire, it’s not behavior you get rewarded for. Unfair! Unfair!
I think history is full of well-meaning bigots. I’m sure there are white supremacists who truly believe that segregation would make the world more peaceful and happy. I’m sure that there are people who truly think that gay people are all going to hell, because that’s what the teachings of a nomadic desert tribe in the Middle East a few millennia ago said. These people are entitled to believe all these things.
But they’re not entitled to have anybody pretend their noxious ideas are somehow not bigotry just because they mean well.