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Header: Jess Anderson in Madison Wisconsin
A Letter From A Bigot

In the late summer of 1997 I received an unsolicited email from a person who told me he was a Christian but thought tolerance was wrong. At the time it arrived, I was busy with other projects and didn't have time to do more than glance at it, so as is my usual custom, I saved it on the thought that I might get around to taking a closer look in a week or so. When I did, finally, I could hardly believe my eyes. There are people out there who apparently really think like this. It's pretty outrageous.

The letter and my response
The complete, unexpurgated text of the email I got is presented here, reformatted for easier reading, each line marked with a + sign. I responded to it with some heat, and perhaps also with some excess, but I'm allowing my comments, interspersed between the so-called thoughts of the sender, to remain.

Subject: Hitlerism Lives On, Apparently
Date: Fri, 12 Sep 1997 20:40:01 -0500 (CDT)

Let me warn you: I am going to publish your letter, without
revealing your identity, as an example of the most
extraordinary views I have yet encountered.  What you write
here could have been written by Hitler himself.  I'm
convinced you are completely sincere in what you believe,
but that does not make it even marginally acceptable in the
society of decent human beings.

I'm not going to bother to argue, in the sense of trying to
bring you to see the errors of your ways; that would be
fruitless.  You have, I gather unwittingly, completely proved
my point about the kind of bigotry that masquerades as
Christianity in some people.

+ Date: Wed, 3 Sep 1997 14:58:15 -0500

+ I have been reading the info on your homepage and I must
+ say, although I am not as old as you and perhaps not as
+ intellectual, I am distressed about many of your views.

+ While I would not categorize myself as a fundementalist, I
+ would consider myself a sincere Christian.  In saying that,
+ I am in no way advocating bigotry.

Every bigoted Christian on the planet believes that he or
she is not bigoted, without exception.  Fortunately, not all
Christians are bigoted; they actually believe in the love
that Jesus of Nazareth came to symbolize.

+ I believe that there is a great difference between bigotry
+ and standing firm on grounded beliefs.

Of course there is a big difference.  Bigotry rests on fear,
hatred, ignorance, and social pathology.  One can have very
solid, grounded beliefs without being a bigot.  But your
beliefs are not just bigoted, they are fundamentally

+ Before I continue, let me say that I feel no ill will
+ towards you, rather I would like to get a better
+ understanding of your position by stating mine.

What sort of logic is that?  What you meant, obviously, was
that you wanted me to read your opinions, which I have done.
Clearly that does not advance your understanding of my case
one iota.

+ You state that intolerance has created many social problems.
+ I couldn't disagree more!  Tolerance is playing a major role
+ in social decay.

It's unfortunate that so much of your argument rests on such
a basically flawed concept as the following, which is
completely illogical.

+ In admitting tolerance, you admit that you believe in no
+ absolute truth, i.e. anything goes.

Your notion of tolerance is remarkably limited, then.  I
don't happen to believe in absolute truth; that idea is
completely inane, totally at variance with history,
as well as with the obvious testimony of the senses.

But even if one conceded, for the purpose of argument, that
absolute truth existed, that would not make of tolerance
what you think it is, nor would it follow that "anything

Then, from this absurdly flawed notion that being tolerant
means there is no morality, all the rest of your equally
crazy views are derived.

+ With that argument, you have crippled your position.

+ If all things are acceptable, that must include bigotry and
+ the other social injustices you condem.

Bigotry is not acceptable.  Hunger and poverty are not
acceptable.  Fear for one's personal security is not
acceptable.  Freedom of speech is acceptable.  Freedom of
religion is acceptable.  Freedom from persecution by bigots
and tyrants is acceptable.  Equal rights for all human
beings is acceptable.

+ To say that we should be tolerant of something like
+ homosexuality but to condem the murderer and rapist is
+ two-faced.

For you to call yourself a Christian and disapprove of
another person's sexuality is two-faced.  At best it is
ignorant; at worst it is hate; in any case it is bigotry.

+ According to the Bible, they are both sin.

You don't know your Bible, evidently.

+ You say serious problems arise when beliefs are
+ "proselytized" for the "good" of society.

Certain beliefs.

+ What you see as unacceptable, such as regulation of school
+ curriculums, is completely necessary.  If there is no
+ regulation, what should be taught?  It's going to be
+ regulated by someone...  the real question is who should be
+ responible for regulating.

School curricula should be regulated by an informed
citizenry with due regard for intellectual freedom and the
civil rights of all.  That would exclude -- on the basis of the
principle of separation of church and state -- all religious

+ Again, let me reiterate, tolerance is the real enemy of
+ society.

Straight out of "Mein Kampf", I hope you realize.

+ Can you honestly think that America is in better shape now
+ than it was in the 50's?  The reason for our moral decline
+ is tolerance.  I personally, am intolerant.

I'm sure you're right about that last.  I don't know if you
were alive in the 50s, but I was (in the 40s and half of the
30s too).  "Better shape" is not well defined in your claim,
but in general we are far better off now.  I guess you
thought it was all right for people to die like flies from
smallpox and polio, which they certainly did in the 50s.
There hasn't been a single case of smallpox in the entire
world since 1973.

+ I am disgusted with the present state of affairs in this
+ country.

I shudder to imagine the state of affairs in which you
weren't disgusted.

+ Please make the distinction between bigotry and having the
+ guts to stand up for what you believe is right...  even in
+ the face of persecution.

I've stood up to persecution a long time, possibly longer
than you've been alive; I'm not about to quit now.

+ I believe that's what you're doing, is it not?

Yeah, sure.  That makes it just swell to advocate an end to
tolerance, right?  That's really, really sick!

+ Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your reply.

It's all you'll get from me.  Don't bother to answer this; I
won't read it.  And if you try it, I will complain to your

One final point: if you happen to agree with that guy, don't waste your time or mine telling me, as I already know there are a lot of you warpos out there. You're free to say what you want, but there's nothing that says I have to pay attention to you.

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