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Tolerate this
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In the interest of providing food for thought over as wide a spectrum as possible, I normally don't revisit my previous week's column. But, apparently last Sunday I jangled the nerves of Jehovah's Witnesses from as far away as Oregon and Washington, judging from the letters to the editor which ran last Wednesday. Well, where there's smoke there's usually fire, and the hit dog hollers, right? Nevertheless, I'll speak as plainly as possible for those who can read, but have trouble comprehending.

My focus last week was not the Jehovah's Witnesses. I called for Americans to honor the sacrifices of our D-Day veterans who have gone before us by preserving the nation they died to save. In so doing I mentioned two court cases, both of which just happened to involve Jehovah's Witnesses. I expressed my heartfelt belief that it's hypocritical for people - and I very clearly listed multiple denominations, not just Jehovah's Witnesses - to live in this country and refuse to support it.

So it's most interesting that although the Jehovah's Witnesses will not fight for the United States, they don't mind picking a fight with this small town newspaper opinion columnist.

Well, tolerate this: it's my opinion that for Jehovah's Witnesses to call for tolerance constitutes the very height of hypocrisy. From their Brooklyn, New York, headquarters the Jehovah's Witnesses are directed not to interact with any other Christian groups; they are taught the Jehovah's Witnesses' brand of Christianity is the only true form. Jehovah's Witnesses are taught to avoid ecumenical efforts, socialize within their own ranks and attempt to proselytize and convert members of other faiths to their own.

The fact is Jehovah's Witnesses are not recognized as a religion in some countries; branded as a cult or sect, their activities were banned in Canada and Australia, for example.

So Jehovah's Witnesses want to have it both ways; they actually define intolerance of other views, yet demand tolerance for their own.

Well, tolerate this: as I said in last week's column, the day America started making policy based on warm, fuzzy, happy feelings of tolerating everything and standing for nothing is the day the problems, which threaten to overwhelm us today, began.

Tolerance is a word which, sadly, has morphed to mean this: anyone can do anything, anywhere, any time, no matter how outrageous or how dangerous, and thus render the vast majority of American citizenry impotent.

There's a big difference between tolerance and anarchy, but the line of definition between the two has become increasingly blurred of late in our society.

Tolerate this: America is a representative democracy, a Federal Republic designed to be governed of, by, and for the will of the people - as determined by the majority. And when last I checked, majority still meant one more than half.

Yet, in the name of tolerance, the vast majority frequently witnesses travesties of justice. One particularly amazing case comes to mind; I listened to the news report traveling back to college one Sunday night long ago and kept up with the appeals for more than 35 years.

Back in 1971, Iowa farmer Briley set up a 20-gauge shotgun to defend an outbuilding against repeated burglaries. Burglar Katko entered and was wounded in the leg. The burglar sued the farmer for failing to warn of the use of lethal force. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of - the burglar!

Just recently the United States Supreme Court finally reversed that decision. But farmer Briley will never know, as he died during the more than 35 years which transpired, and his farm was sold to pay continuing legal expenses and taxes.

Americans are outraged by these cases, when victims of crime are left out in the cold by our legal system. It's just not right - legal support for criminals at the expense of their victims should not be tolerated.

Tolerance, sensitivity and the right to a fair and impartial trial are all well and good. But a legally supported process of reverse discrimination which favors any minority at the expense of the majority is ridiculous, and borders on anarchy.

Be assured I've done my academic research backing up my own personal experiences from teaching Jehovah's Witnesses children in public school. I didn't attack any one group in last week's column, and I didn't go looking for this tussle.

But the bottom line is simply this: Jehovah's Witnesses got upset at my mention of two historical Supreme Court cases that paint them truthfully, but in a politically unfavorable light; by attacking my opinion they apparently hope to obfuscate that they demand tolerance from the majority in order to operate as they please while in turn exercising intolerance of other's views.

That's pretty much called talking out of both corners of your mouth. And down here, in the Deep South, at best that's disingenuous - and, at worst, it's intolerable.

Nat Harwell is a long-time resident of Newton County. His columns appear regularly on Sundays.