Students Tolerating Intolerance

COMMENTARY BY
JONATHON BOLGER

You can tell there is a problem with right and wrong in a situation once a problem is brought to the attention of onlookers and bystanders and they become instantly uncomfortable. As I walk through campus, words like “homophobia,” and “patriarchy,” are only words that are acceptable to use in particular situations at particular times, or else the response of the persons/people you are talking to consider you a “buzz kill.” Why is that? Is it the Community Advisories about students who are sexually assaulted? The outlandish fear of the homosexual? The idea that, perhaps, a woman standing up for herself is an actual threat? Or maybe it is the reality that the control of the white, the heterosexual, the male is slowly slipping away from grasp?

It is easy to see where the privileged, the in-control, might have issues with the culture shift. The progression of the oppressed will always receive opposition. We of an educated, but unfortunately uninformed, college culture can point to only extreme examples of the Jew in the Holocaust, the Russian in the U.S.S.R., and the slave in America’s early days. Unfortunately, the oppressed live around us. They are living in the dorms on campus, eating in The DeNaples Center, learning in classes, socializing on the weekends and becoming our closest friends. The elite “tolerate” certain behaviors of theirs, but they are not the equal.

When in conversation with someone who becomes uncomfortable with these kinds of conversations, I hear the phrase, “well, that is just your opinion,” or, “that is not true for me.” When questioned about their position in life, I hear a lot of “#firstworldproblems,” and various horrifying tales of Starbucks running out of coffee, and an uncooked burger and a party that ran short of their liquid indulgences. What I do not hear about is the inability for these persons to speak their mind, to share their ideas, or to stand their ground without being laughed at by the elite, scorned by their superiors and not taken seriously.
So joking is the mentality of the elite of the non-elite that some abuse their power by means of coercion to convince malicious intimacy, to take from them what is theirs, to keep them quiet in times where they wish to be heard. The non-elites then mask their emotions, conform and do as told.

Oh, what great men are we to strike down that which we feel uncomfortable with. How wondrous an existence to hear only what we want to hear, see what we want to see and take what we only want. There might be an issue with this, however, as we no longer have what we need. The more we silence the things we do not want to hear, see only what we want to see and take what we want, the less tolerance we have for the strong, the less appreciation we have for the independent and the more we laugh at the outstanding.

To put this into words that maybe an elitist would understand: how would you feel if a woman asked you on a date, or for your phone number? How would you feel watching two persons of the same gender hooking up at a party the same way perhaps you hook up with the opposing gender? Can we have the same conversations about what occurs when the doors close and the lights are turned off as someone who identifies as a homosexual? If the answers to these questions are anything like “uncomfortable” or “no,” then there is a clear disparity that needs to be thought out, otherwise patriarchy and homophobia are presented very clearly, and this is only at a progressive University, much less a more traditional culture.

It seems apparent that the phrases “Well, that is just my opinion” and “That is what is true for me” have severe side effects for our University. The two most detrimental effects of these phrases, the people they affect most, appear to be women and homosexuals who (believe it or not) exist, live, and thrive here. The heterosexual male, the elite, is educated but uninformed. We speak openly, but do not think about what we say. We assault the identities of others (“that is so gay”) but are afraid to be sensitive or caring (“be a man, men are strong”). I ask you, fellow students, how can we consider ourselves Jesuits, persons for others, if we cannot be a person for ourselves first?

contact the writer:
jonathon.bolger@scranton.edu

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