I Tolerate You So Much, You Need to Shut Up and Hide!

Rob Tisinai

September 24th, 2012

I’ve been blogging a few years now and it’s been a long time since I read something that made me as angry as what I read last night.

Jeremy Hooper of Good As You points us to a piece by Anthony Esolen, Professor of English at Providence College. He’s writing in a Witherspoon publication — the same folks who financed the Regnerus study.

Esolen thinks well of himself — he is a great and good-hearted tolerant man, and it’s bugging the crap out of him that we homosexuals are not giving him his due. In his words:

Tolerance of wrong-doing is freely given; it is an act of graciousness, and not the paying of a debt. Therefore it rests with the offender, at the very least, to refrain from aggravating the burden of tolerance.

Esolen wants me to know that any public acknowledgement of my relationship with Will is an aggravation of Esolen’s burden. And this is Esolen being gracious.

It’s easy to summarize the man’s essay, because it says so little. It’s hard to do it using his own words, because he uses so many. But let me try. After several paragraphs invoking Thomas Aquinas and exploring Latin, Old English, and German word roots, he gives an example:

The local convenience store sells Playboy magazine. They are legally permitted to sell it. But it is a wrong; it degrades the beauty of the human body and turns sexuality from its proper sphere in marriage to the private quest for gratification. If they tacitly request tolerance, they tacitly incur a debt of reciprocity. They will keep the offensive magazine out of sight.

Yes: He’s willing to tolerate the existence of something as long as it’s kept out of sight. This sets up his view homosexuality — he lets us happen, and we acknowledge our debt by hiding ourselves away.

He starts like this: 

I want my son to be comfortable being a boy. I want him to grow up to be attracted to women, and to be attractive to them in turn…I want him to walk and talk and work and play and fight and laugh like the man I see developing within him. I want him to love the beauty and grace and wisdom of girls and women… I hope he will marry a good woman and raise happy children…

And so on. But homosexuals endanger his son. We are a — well, look at the word he gives us:

Therefore it is natural that I should want no one to lay a snare in the boy’s path.

Esolen pauses to praise his own wondrous tolerance:

All right, then. I understand there are men who have not attained the healthy masculine nature I hope my son will attain. I don’t make fun of them. I don’t wish them ill. I count some among my friends. I extend to them my tolerance of a state that is at least a significant falling-short of a natural good.

Yes, he’s great of soul. But…

But it requires pretty serious reciprocity. For one, the rights of my son should be respected. No snares in his path, thank you. He should not have to suffer, by suggestion or invitation or public example or enticement or moral sophistry, any complication along his way to becoming a healthy man, able to love a woman in a healthy way. Mr. Madison and Mr. Unger live in the same apartment: they are roommates. The history teacher, Mr. Delvecchio, is 40 and unmarried. Well, some people are confirmed bachelors. And indeed they may be. The freedom-clearing presumption of normality ought to obtain.

I don’t even know what that last sentence means, or how freedom could possibly figure into a scenario where we must limit our lives to accommodate his personal views and feel indebted that he’s permitting us to do so. Esolen will tolerate two men living together, as long as they call themselves no more than roommates. Esolen will tolerate the existence of a man who never marries a woman as long as the man is silent on the reason why.

Esolen will let homosexuals be as long as homosexuals are silent.

He devotes four paragraphs to this demand for silence. A celibate homosexual who confesses his status but never acts upon it? Too much! Too great an aggravation of Esolen’s burden!

Every person alive is beset by temptations. We may utter them to our confessors, or, less often, to our best friends on condition of secrecy, or to our spouses, when it would not cause needless pain. Beyond that, we assist the tolerance of our neighbors by keeping our serpents to ourselves.

And for Esolen, admitting one’s homosexuality is morally equivalent to advocating the slaughter of a busload of people. No, really:

The man who parades his temptation may be seeking approval. “Look at me! I am tempted to do things with another man that God and nature never intended. But I’m not going to do them. Aren’t I to be congratulated?” No, not a bit. If a man said, “Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to open fire upon a bus full of professionals. Oh, I’ll never do it, but just imagine the blood,” we’d rightly consider reporting him to the police. And then it is a small step from approving the brave fellow who makes his temptation conspicuous and conspicuously averts the sin, to suggesting that perhaps the sin isn’t really so bad after all, if such a conspicuously virtuous fellow is tempted by it.

That too is an offense against tolerance.

Sorry. I had to quote that in full or you’d never believe it.

It occurs to me that I haven’t critiqued his words, merely reported them. They’re self-critiquing, self-damning. Am I to take seriously Esolen’s notion that my life is a gift that he graciously allows me to have despite the burden it places on him? But let me adopt his logic and see where it leads:

Esolen and his views hurt people, especially gay teens. I was a gay teen myself, and feel for those good people struggling to value themselves in the face of continued condemnation. I want no one to lay snares in their path. They should not have to suffer, by suggestion or invitation or public example or enticement or moral sophistry, any complication along their way to becoming healthy men and women, able to love in a healthy way.

I am willing to tolerate Esolen and his views, but he should remember this is an act of graciousness, and not the paying of a debt. It rests with him, at the very least, to refrain from aggravating my burden of tolerance. He must keep his serpents to himself. He must keep silent.

Can you imagine Esolen’s reaction, his cried of Perescution! and Oppression! What an ass this would make me. What a pompous, arrogant, entitled, privileged, freedom-destroying, intolerant ass.

Yes. Exactly.

Ben In Oakland

September 24th, 2012

I couldn’t believe the trash I was reading. More lies, ignorance, false equivalencies, and straw men wrapped up in a pretty bow

I have a prayer for him. i hope his son turns out to be gay, so he can actually gain some wisdom instead of the hyper-active superiority gland that funcitons as a brain.

Rowan Bristol

September 24th, 2012

How does a site called Public Discourse not have a comments field?


September 24th, 2012

Catholic theology is pure insanity. I don’t get anyone who says that there is reason or intelligence behind it.

Jim Hlavac

September 24th, 2012

I can’t imagine the scenarios where either this man or his son is encountering all the snares of “homosexuality” he so fears. Sounds more like the kid wouldn’t know a thing about it, unless he was gay, or his father told him. Surely no gay men are approaching the two at home, their church, school, work, etc, and saying: “hey, we’re gay….” I’m not sure that he or is son will knowingly encounter gay men, less so a gay couple, and virtually impossibly a gay couple holding hands in public. He’s got what he wants — we are hidden from him. He doesn’t even see one of us at a hotel desk, or his waiter at Applebees. So what’s his beef? That we exist on the next block over? Do we butter our toast too loudly for the man.

Jim Burroway

September 24th, 2012

This is the kind of writing that makes me jealous. ;-)

Timothy Kincaid

September 24th, 2012

Oh the snares that can cross a child’s path. There are the snares of Protestantism or agnosticism or even temptation to the arrogant assumption that man can understand God’s Divine Ways that might lead a child to doubt the church’s wisdom. There are snares of pious sounding “principles” (but which are mere sophistry) like equality and diversity and fairness with can warp a young mind into placing worldly values above those timeless values that the church makes clear.

Yes, yes, tis best to send the child to an approved boarding school that has neither television, books that threaten his future, not access to broader society with its snares and temptations and false “science”. Or homeschool him; I hear it’s similar.


September 24th, 2012

” invoking Thomas Aquinas ”

Did he use this quote:

Because of the diverse conditions of humans, it happens that some acts are virtuous to some people, as appropriate and suitable to them, while the same acts are immoral for others, as inappropriate to them.
Thomas Aquinas
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/t/thomas_aquinas.html#RUMBHlfVuKpQ1ffu.99

I doubt it.


September 24th, 2012

He sounds like a victim of Opus Dei brainwashing. I’ll bet he sends that kid to the same Opus Dei school that Rick Santorum sends his kids to. The kid won’t grow up to be a man, any more than his father has. He will grow up to be a pissant little dogmatist, just like his dad.

David Wachter

September 24th, 2012

Thanks for tearing this one apart. Even knowing nothing about Esolen, I recognized the tortured logic of Roman Catholicism. It takes a recovering Catholic to recognize it and untangle the bizarre pretzel-like knots it takes to logically justify a point of view based on a fallacy. And it seems like everything that goes back to Thomas Aquinas turns into mega-pretzels.

This poor man. When I used to be the organist in Catholic churches, I would encounter poor things like this. They were insufferable, and I’m thankful that I haven’t had to deal with them for twenty years.

Ben In Oakland

September 24th, 2012

The whole thing boiled down to this;

I am a superior being who deigns to tolerate your right to exist by virtue of my superiority. however, do not press hard upon my tolerance, because I may withdraw it…

and you will suffer, as you used to before I was tolerant.

Funny about those “snares”, though. They’re baited with compassion, intelligence, and facts– reality, for short.

Reality is what happens while youre busy being superior.


September 24th, 2012

I feel like I’m listening to a first-born who was very, very disappointed when his parents had another child. After all, there aren’t supposed to be any people in my universe other than myself, right?


September 24th, 2012

This is not my bad. Therefore not mine to get agitated over. There is nothing to change in me, no behavior no thoughts. Nature needs no defense.

He needs help as he is suffering at his own thoughts.
Now he can resolve it or not. It is after all, his torture.

David S.

September 24th, 2012

Professor Esolen wrote a series of blog entries entitled “Ten Arguments for Sanity” on the Touchstone Magazine blog some time ago. This blog entry links to and critically summarizes his arguments, such as they are:



September 24th, 2012

Mr Esolen wants his son to grow up without encountering any complications of humanity. I gather the plan is to hatch him from an infantile state into fully fledged masculine innocence.

Fie on us nasty gays with our snaring tendencies. The Garden of Eden may yet be brought into being as Mr Esolen fashions his son into the new Adam. let’s all keep very quiet so the imprinting process takes hold and he might recognise his Eve when he sees her.

Wouldn’t it be terrible if some less than ideal condition should rupture the fragile purity of Adam’s gender construction. We’d better all stay indoors lest we somehow cause a fall from Grace. Whatever you do, don’t let him see your apples.


September 25th, 2012

Doesn’t he understand that we are tolerating him as well?

I would rather he not not hold the views he does, and if he must hold them, I’d rather he not express them. In fact, I think he does damage by expressing his views. Sets up a “snare” for other people, if you will.

But I recognize his right to hold those views, and his right to express them, as contemptible as I find them.

What debt should he owe to me for tolerating that?

“For one, the rights of my son should be respected.”

Your son has no right to not be confronted with ideas and people that make him uncomfortable.

If that was truly a “right” then I’d have to demand not to be confronted with


September 25th, 2012

I feel very sorry for Mr. Esolen, for the burdens he carries, and I think the least the LGBT community can do – especially those of us who have not attained the healthy masculine nature he wants for his son – is to honor his wishes. We should keep our homosexuality and our existence hidden from his precious son, even though that may inconvenience him a bit. After all, that history teacher who lives without a wife cannot guarantee that Mr. Esolen’s son won’t figure out his “nautre” from his mannerisms, etc. Thus he must decline to educate Mr. Esolen’s son. The waiter must also refrain from serving the professor and his family; the doctor must refrain from providing health care; the accountant must refuse to do their taxes; the pilot must refuse them passage on his airliner – all to ensure that very special Esolen dauphin won’t ever come into contact with non-masculine individuals. Sure trying to navigate the world without ever coming into contact with TEH GAY may require longer waits by the Esolen family and whole places – like Disney parks – where they cannot go, but I am sure it will be worth the sacrifice.

Oh, and one other note for Mr. Esolen. The two teenagers who bashed me 8 years ago, smashing my face in with a brick, learned very quickly that I can certainly fight like a man, which is why they ran away like the cowards that they were. And I am not the only homosexual who is capable of self-defense. He might remember that there are those of us who have come close enough to Esolen’s masculine ideal that we can actually kick his sorry behind, hypothetically speaking of course. It might make him pause before ticking more of us off.


September 26th, 2012

To find where Prof. Esolen is at any given time, measure the rotation of the Earth accurately and compute where the point on its surface is that it revolves around. Go there and you will meet Prof. Esolen!!!


September 26th, 2012

I am so profoundly encouraged by the ability of us on the side of equality to think critically and divergently. Those on Mr. Esolen’s team ought to try it some time.


September 26th, 2012

LOL. I am envisioning the gay snare in his son’s path. Maybe it’s a Pottery Barn Catalog, with a tilted box held by a stick, connected to a string…


September 26th, 2012

Does anyone else from the Bay Area remember Art Hoppe’s columns in the SF Chronicle? For non-Chron readers, Hoppe died about ten years ago, after having been reliably funny five days a week since (I’m told) the 1950s.

I’ve been googling around trying to find a particular column he wrote in the early eighties that addresses Mr. Esolen’s concerns. Can’t find it, so I’ll try to reconstruct the gist from memory. It went more or less like this:

Hoppe’s fictitious son Mordred comes home and announces, “Guess what, Dad? I’ve been recruited!”

“You mean by the army? Didn’t your mother and I warn you about that?”

“No, by the homosexuals.”

“Really? I thought you had a crush on that girl in your history class.”

“Well, these two guys told me that as a homosexual, I’d live a glamorous, carefree life, with no wife to nag me and no kids to put through college. Women will love me because I’m well-dressed, witty and cultured, and I’ll get to accompany rich widows to the symphony and art openings every weekend!”

“Son, do you realize what two men actually have to do together in order to be homosexuals?”

And that was the end of that.


March 31st, 2013

Poor old Esolen is so confused. He’s just so … conflicted! I mean if anyone were to encroach upon the extraordinary tolerance of either him or the dauphin, my God! Who knows what would happen? They might be tempted! And from there they could be corrupted! They’d be down that slippery slope in a laundry chute and the resulting debauchery would be all your fault, you gay dudes!


March 31st, 2013

If you thought that one was bad, try this one! http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/03/9449/
I doesn’t make much sense either. As far as I can glean, traditional marriage is good because Leander tried to rape Hero. Or something.

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