“The Intolerance of Tolerance” and the Thought Police

The Seattle Times
The Seattle Times (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is another example of intolerance from D. A. Carson’s book, “The Intolerance of Tolerance.”

In 2006, the wind ensemble of the Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek, Washington, in line with its tradition of choosing a piece of music to play at graduation, voted unanimously for Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria. The ensemble had played it for their winter concert and wanted to play it for graduation as well. The district superintendent, Carol Whitehead, turned it down: winter concerts were one thing, but to play the piece at graduation might be construed as endorsing religion. One student, Kathryn Nurre, sued, insisting that her constitutional rights had been violated. To read the letters to the editor in the Seattle Times is to gain an education on how tolerance so easily becomes intolerance. One writer applauded Whitehead for her decision, “for correctly insisting the wind ensemble play a more secular piece for commencement.” After all, the “melody is very familiar to all of us [one suspects the writer is thinking of a different piece with the same title, but we’ll let that pass], and when we hear the instruments play, the words are immediately heard in our brains.” As Jay Nordlinger comments, “Now we are in the vicinity of thought-crime: We may not be singing about God, and we may not be hearing words about God, but the notes make us think of God, which is verboten at graduation.”

Think for a moment about the mental and spiritual condition of the person who is concerned that a particular melody might cause people to hear spiritual words in their brains! Jesus said:

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God (John 3:19-21, NIV).”

Story taken from, The Intolerance of Tolerance, by D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Eeerdman’s, 2012) 27-28.

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Author: Scott

Follower of Jesus, husband, father, pastor, writer, mentor

3 thoughts on ““The Intolerance of Tolerance” and the Thought Police”

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