Yesterday, Boston Celtics center Jason Collins came out as gay, making him the first active player in a major sport to do so. Sorry, field hockey. Collins was the center of sports media attention for approximately six hours, at which point he was displaced by Chris Broussard’s announcement that he personally believes homosexuality is a sin. That quickly became the more popular story, possibly because there was a video. Scolds emerged from both ends of the internet to defend or condemn Broussard’s remarks—mostly to condemn, prompting Michelle Malkin to declare herself and Broussard victims of a “tolerance mob.” You know those mobs of angry people who use the threat of persecution to force you to conform to a normative standard of behavior. They’re most commonly associated with tolerance.
The image above comes from A. Ron Galbraith’s Facebook feed, through which he gave it to the world with the caption “let’s get real here, autocorrect.” The autocorrect function on the iPhone and similar touchscreen devices works by trying different permutations of the letters nearest the letters you hit. You can map “Norberto king” to its deliberately-struck neighbors nicely, right up until you get to the O. At that point, autocorrect moves from likely mistakes to wishful thinking. For Apple, a company that has built its reputation on cannily assessing how people use their consumer electronics, to assume that Aaron probably wanted to say “Norberto king” rather than the common intensifier he typed perfectly seems, well, naive. Consider their alternative, though, which is to add “motherfucking” to their autocorrect dictionary. While thousands of Americans like myself would find it easier to send text messages about our dentists and burritos, a small number would be upset. Somewhere in Kansas, a woman mourning the death of her beloved friend Norberto would text a fellow church deacon to ask if he was going to the motherfucking funeral, and that would be it. Our phone autocorrects’ willful insistence that we meant to type “what the duck” is a manifestation of the same phenomenon that makes it okay to shoot fifty people in a PG-13 movie, but not okay to show a boob or a cigarette. Most of us have no problem with boobs or smoking, but the few who do are extremely vocal. Thus does the public tolerance of a society move to the level of its least tolerant members. That’s a curious nuisance for most people, and a life-determining problem if you’re, say, a gay dude who wants to get Norberto King married.
The prophet Mohammed, seen here wearing a bear costume in an episode of South Park. He's in there. He's in heaven, too.
Last week, the 200th episode of South Park reprised the show’s Super Best Friends gag, in which the primary figures of various world religions—Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed, Vishnu, Moses, John Smith and Aquaman—serve as a crime-fighting team a la Hanna-Barbera’s Superfriends. Presumably in satire of the Jyllands-Posten debacle, Mohammed sits in the back of a moving van for most of the new episode, only to finally emerge wearing a bear suit. These expediences were to avoid the Koranic prohibition against visual depictions of the prophet, which a majority of the world’s Muslim’s consider blasphemy. Even though the use of the bear suit clearly satisfies the laws set down for the authors of the Koran by the creator of the universe sixteen centuries ago in anticipation of the invention of television, frame-based computer animation and basic cable, at least one Muslim group has suggested that Trey Parker and Matt Stone should be put to death. In a message posted on RevolutionMuslim.com, Abu Talha Al-Amrikee said, “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.” In case you’re wondering, Theo Van Gogh was the Dutch filmmaker who was stabbed to death after making a movie arguing that Islam condones violence toward women. Argument refuted: counterexample.