So I had been curious for quite some time about the meaning of Adam Baldwin’s (@adamsbaldwin) #PolymorphousPerversity hash tags, and I tweeted a cry for help. I was not expecting the response I got (from Mr. Baldwin himself), which included links to The History of Political Correctness, The Origins of Political Correctness and Repressive Tolerance. These were helpful because they explained what Mr. Baldwin means not only when he uses #PolymorphousPerversity but also #RepressiveTolerance. I think that I, like many, had been misinterpreting Mr. Baldwin’s tweets as intolerance of the left when what he is really asking for is (if I am understanding correctly) simply reciprocal tolerance.
Upon reflection, I realized that I have been dealing with Repressive Tolerance all my life. One of my most vivid memories is from high school. I was called a racist because I filled out a form and listed my race as “other, European American”. I must admit that I wasn’t taking a stand, I wasn’t fighting back at political correctness, I was just being a smartass. In retrospect, however, I now see what everyone was so upset about. They thought I was taking a stand.
More recently, I was smacked in the face with Repressive Tolerance when I had the opportunity to meet my favorite comedian, Eddie Izzard (@eddieizzard). I happened to be on the west coast for one night only and he happened to be doing a one night only fundraiser in West Hollywood that same night. It seemed like fate. Through more twists and turns of fate I ended up not only meeting Mr. Izzard but going out to dinner with about a dozen people (including him) after the show. Now please don’t get me wrong, I will be forever grateful to Mr. Izzard for his openness about being a straight (executive) transvestite. To a certain extent, I credit my son’s ability to come out (at the age of 14) to that openness (something along the lines of “if mom thinks Eddie’s OK then I guess she’ll be OK with me”). On the other hand, although everyone else there seemed open to my mostly right-leaning viewpoints, Mr. Izzard only seemed to want to talk to people who agreed with him. It was disappointing to say the least.
So we’ve done early 90’s and 2010; now for one in the middle that tells a different (and better) story. In 1999 I was living in Charleston, SC and working at Nuclear Power School. I had an opportunity to work as an extra on a movie that Martin Sheen was in and, hey, free money, right? I thought I’d be one of thousands but when I showed up there were only a dozen or so extras and we ended up eating dinner with the actors. Mr. Sheen was very interested in my job with the Navy. I was surprised given what I had read about him in the media. He was completely open to learning about the history and safety of nuclear power in the Navy and participated openly in a two-way dialog. This idea that everyone is entitled to their own viewpoint (which Mr. Sheen seemed to embrace, despite his own very strong views) is what Mr. Baldwin is advocating.
As a wise woman once said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”