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True tolerance

In the public forum, there will always be groups that are favored and those that are not. Our pluralistic society values diversity and despises censorship and subjugation of vulnerable groups. But the very status of these common values creates an inherent dilemma: What do we do with vulnerable minority opinions that do not share our common values?

Stephanie Waties struggled with such a dilemma in her Tuesday column ("Who's playing devil's advocate?" Feb. 8). The catalyst was a series of YouTube videos posted by three Christian University students that Waties considers "shocking," "radical," with "religious rhetoric" of "intolerance and hatred." She also questions to what extent their message of "ignorance and radical dismissal of others" ought to be allowed.

According to Waties, the extremist views are as follows: 1) Pledging one's whole and unreserved loyalty to a fraternity or sorority is incompatible with a Christian's preeminent and superseding duty to God. 2) Certain behavior common to fraternities and sororities is sinful, such as performing sexual acts and drinking to the point of a total loss of self-control. 3) Behavior that does not serve God serves the devil.

I fail to see how that message is shocking, radical, intolerant or hateful. Perhaps Waties equates criticism of any form with intolerance. If so, she ought to consider that her column is, at least by that standard, encouraging intolerance and hatred toward a particular religious group.

Perhaps her reaction is due to misunderstanding: People unfamiliar with religion occasionally take offense at the suggestion that they are sinners or have served the devil. Christianity teaches that all human beings are sinners to some degree, and all sins constitute obedience to the devil. Usually, public condemnations of things like binge drinking and licentiousness are not intended to demonize the participants, but rather to convince them to repent. Of course, such views represent a particular set of moral opinions, just like Waties' views on intolerance and hatred, and no one's private opinions are binding on anyone else.

But this does not justify the suggestion that unpopular views "have no place on Grounds" or should be censored out of the public forum. The correct response is not to shun those with whom one disagrees - it is to either ignore or to contribute a rebuttal in a way that recognizes others' right to disagree.

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