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The Hawkeye

Coexistence does not mean acceptance

By Matt Correa, Hawkeye contributer

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It is often said, in our society allegedly riddled with intolerance and prejudice from the right wing, that we should accept people of all cultures and beliefs – the notion being that no one should be judged for their opinions, their personal beliefs and especially not for their immutable traits such as gender, skin color or sexual orientation. The intentions of this idea are noble – create a society of people who are different from one another but do not hate each other.

While it may seem like the blueprints for paradise and something that we should all strive to bring into our lives I wholeheartedly disagree with this sentiment that we should accept every ideology. The key word in that statement is ‘accept’, there is a marked and imperative difference between accepting another idea and acknowledging it’s right to exist.

I do not accept the traditions of modern Islam, the hijab, being the farthest ever step back in women’s rights and least feminist thing to support, a perfect example.

I do not accept Christianity’s emphasis on chastity until marriage.

Really, I do not accept any religion – any body of beliefs which claims to be holy or which forces [its] followers to accept its moral teachings on nothing but blind faith. Blind faith is how we get whole auditoriums of people agreeing that violent punishment is necessary for non-believers or anyone who goes against the Quran [1] [4:10].

I firmly believe that religion has absolutely no place in an educated modern society.

I do not accept any teachings of any holy texts as I choose to forge my own morality, but it does not mean that I cannot coexist with them.

Now if I were to say just that in a discussion with a person of faith at school I would be called down to the office on accusations of me ‘discriminating based on religion’. The sign on the door of many classrooms is likely to read “no hateful remarks are tolerated here” but in reality I was civil in my discussion and never made any statements that could be reasonably considered bullying in any way.

The problem is with those who are emotional about their faith and cannot handle the concept that someone disagrees even though I simply stated my beliefs with no inflammatory language. Disagreement is the bedrock of intellectual conversation and an intelligent society – a culture where we cannot challenge one another on our ideas for fear of making them uncomfortable is one that is doomed to fail.

I accept the message of tolerance posited by the editor of the Hawkeye Stephi Smith who has gone on to say “ … you have no right to discriminate against someone for what they believe in.” [2]  but I strongly disagree that we have to accept everyone’s beliefs. 

By decrying those who would question the leftist dogma of protecting student’s feelings at any cost (which has even been adopted by the school district as well as the administration here at terrace) we encourage PC culture of silencing any dissenters who may have legitimate concerns and claims because they sound potentially hurtful.

Just because you are offended does not mean that you are right – and you have no reason to be offended when someone presents their argument reasonably and calmly.

I am not a conservative as many would believe – I am a staunch liberal who stands for the freedom of ideas, all ideas. I believe you have the right to hold the idea that Islamic or Christian values should be instilled in everyone but likewise I have the right to hold the idea that you are wrong and that religion has no place in modern society.

This idea of protecting students from ‘discrimination’ by curbing free speech is the least liberal thing you could do.

Do I support bullying on the basis of one’s religion? Absolutely not. Would I ever avoid being friends with someone or talking to them just because they are religious? Ask my friends, they’ll tell you no and so will I.

We mustn’t tell students to automatically accept one another’s opinions, but encourage them to talk to one another civilly and recognize that they might be wrong no matter what their stance on religion is.

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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.
Coexistence does not mean acceptance