The Shrinking Limits of Tolerance



The Che mystique continues to mystify me.


Various Hollywood celebrities (e.g. Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, and the like) have made pilgrimages to Cuba over the years, often paying gushing tribute to Fidel Castro while there and upon their return.


Castro’s Cuba is, and has long been, an oppressive police state.  Indeed, the Castro brothers and the mysteriously-still-glamorous murderer Che Guevara were busy killing people even before they came to power in 1959.  The total death toll under Castro’s rule probably exceeds 100,000 — which would be the equivalent, given the relative population sizes of Cuba and of the United States, of killing nearly three million Americans.  And yet, Castro’s Cuba has, by the standards of the past century’s totalitarian dictatorships, been relatively gentle; economic backwardness and a widespread deprivation of basic human rights also need to be factored into the cost paid by Cubans for the privilege of being ruled by El Líder Máximo and his henchmen.  There are, at the present time, something on the order of 65,000 political prisoners in Cuba, kept under generally terrible conditions — the equivalent of nearly two million people in the United States.  (See here for an account.)  Miami wouldn’t be the essentially Cuban city it is today — and I would not have the adorable daughter-in-law that I have — had it not been for the Castro regime.


Curiously, though, nobody, or virtually nobody, has been calling for Penn, Nicholson, Glover, Spielberg, and others of their fellow travelers to be banished from Hollywood, deprived of their livelihoods, or excluded from the society of decent human beings.


But are there limits to tolerance in the entertainment industry?  Absolutely yes, and, in the case of the horrible Orson Scott Card, we’re getting a much clearer idea of where they’re located.  Tolerance is all well and good, of course.  Indeed, it’s the supreme virtue.  But some things, and some people, are just plain beyond the pale.  Tolerance doesn’t apply to them.  They don’t deserve it.


Orson Scott Card’s views are, of course, thoroughly unfashionable in influential, elite circles.  Which is precisely the time when notions like tolerance and respect for different opinions need to go out the window, since they’re intended to protect popular opinions and/or the viewpoints of powerful segments of society, not absurd, marginal, and contemptible minorities.



A nice Berlin graffito
Deeply sad about Elder Perry
"The best conference in the world"?
"Let Episcopal-Mormon dialogue begin"
  • Jeff Elhardt

    Man the oars!

    • DanielPeterson

      Tim Spencer: If you’re looking for somebody who wants to escape by boat from Florida to Cuba, Jeff Elhardt may well be your guy.

      • Jeff Elhardt

        Ok Dan, but if we go, I’ll do the steering because you tend to drift between points.

        • DanielPeterson

          For anybody who might be wondering where Jeff Elhardt is coming from: He’s linked with something called the “Exmormon Foundation.”

          • Jeff Elhardt

            Never been mormon or exmormon. Show the link.
            I think I see where you’re coming from, though.
            Dark in there, isn’t it?

          • DanielPeterson


            I was puzzled by your (repeated) obscure but apparently hostile comments, since I’ve never heard of you. So I Googled you and found somebody with your very name — a not altogether common one — one of whose Facebook links is the “Exmormon Foundation,” who has also posted a fair number of extremely snarky anti-Mormon links and comments across the Web.

            Pure coincidence, perhaps.

          • Collin Simonsen

            I would be shocked, SHOCKED to hear about an anti-mormon lying . I guess there’s a first time for everything.

          • Tim Spencer

            Actually, Colin, lying is a universal human trait. You weren’t implying that active, believing Mormons don’t lie, as well, I hope. We’ve all done it, and will do it again, I am sure. I don’t consider myself an anti-Mormon, only a measly apostate. So, perhaps, nothing I have said here is true. Who would know?

          • brotheroflogan

            Tim, forgive my sarcasm above, but I have just lately become apprised of the practice of anti-mormons claiming to be mormons, and making comments on blogs like, “I’ve been a member of 15 years and not a sunday goes by that I don’t hear racist rants in Sunday school.” I’m glad that Dan has started calling them out on it.
            Yes I know that mormons lie, but most of us do strive to be honest.

          • Tim Spencer

            How does that song go? “Met a girl called Lola….” Help me out Dan!

          • Daniel Peterson

            Please don’t clutter this blog up with nonsense.

      • Tim Spencer

        I’ve already escaped. But, the grass is always greener on the other side, no matter where you escape to, or from.

  • Tim Spencer

    Hmmmm. I think an argument can be made for America as an oppressive police state. Has Castro ever said he is the leader of the freest state in the world?

    Come on, Dan. You’ve been in Europe and spoken with Europeans about America. That the U.S. Americans judge others, with such ease mind you, is what turns so many of them off.

    For supporters of a country which has started so many wars (arguably illegal wars), perhaps we should be a little more circumspect in our criticisms of other countries.

    Manifest destiny is hardly a good enough excuse today for the annihilation of nearly the whole Native American population.

    Tolerance, indeed!

    • DanielPeterson

      I don’t think there’s any room for serious dispute as to whether the United States or Cuba is the most free society, and I scarcely think that America is so morally compromised that Americans can’t criticize totalitarian tyrannies.

      How many people die each year trying to flee Miami for Havana?

      • Tim Spencer

        How many die from the practice of capital punishment each year in the U.S.? What’s your point?

        • Daniel Peterson

          My point is, of course, that very few (if any people) are seeking to escape from the United States into Cuba, while very many people are seeking, and have sought, to escape from Cuba into the United States — often at considerable risk, and not a few at the cost of their lives. (I know some of these Cuban refugees very well.) In other words, in terms of voting with their feet, very few people who actually know the situation and have any real stake in it seem to be entertaining your apparent view that the differences between the United States and Cuba are negligible.

    • Collin Simonsen

      You can criticize Cuba and America. Being an American does not mean you have to qualify every criticism of a totalitarian regime with, “not that we’re perfect.”

      • Tim Spencer

        Why not? It might first cause one to reflect on the weaknesses of the system. America is a big place, and for some people living there, I imagine it might feel like totalitarianism isn’t so far away. Just to get where you are coming from, are you white and middle-class?

        • Daniel Peterson

          Are you Cuban?

  • Lucy Mcgee

    Cuba imprisons 0.53% of its population of which under 100 are classified as political prisoners. Cuba gets terrible marks from organizations such as Human Rights Watch, as it should. The regime is brutal on dissent and makes it a crime to use the internet. We know what they are afraid of.

    The United States, curiously, contains 5% of the world’s population and yet has, through its prison complex, imprisoned 25% of the entire world’s prisoners. The prison system at Pelican Bay in California has no problem locking people into solitary confinement for decades. We, as a nation, do not allow animals to be treated in such a manor. And for a predominantly Christian Nation, I find this fact very sad indeed.

  • Raymond Swenson

    Lucy, don’t confuse political prisoners with people who sell drugs, burgle houses,or commit armed robbery. The number of new violent crimes has been dropping steadily in the US for decades, including crimes.committed using firearms. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have used their power of pardon only rarely, demonstrating they do not believe that any significant number of felons are innocent of the crimes for which they are being punished.

    In Cuba, being a demonstrator who quietly protests the disappearance of your husband is enough to get you killed. Cuba has just barely started allowing people to own, buy and sell private property. There is no power of the people over the government. The government essentially owns them. The way the government cares for its people is the way a farmer takes care.of his cattle. No matter the count of “official” political prisoners, all of the people in Cuba have little more freedom than an inmate in a prison.

    • Tim Spencer

      Have you listened to the reported story about the black students in New York City, who have been stopped many times in their lives, just walking to school? Go a few blocks away, to the white boys’ schools, and they will laugh about how that just couldn’t be. Certain people in the U.S. are not free, unless you are suggesting they are free to throw themselves against the wall before the cops do it for them?

      We could go on and on here. I can find as many examples of a police state in the ‘most free country in the world’ as you can in Cuba, for sure. I just think the U.S. Americans ought to be a bit more ashamed of their government’s behavior than they appear to be.

      • Daniel Peterson

        You’re taking ridiculous position here, Mr. Spencer. Simply ridiculous. I know that you’re armed with the mighty power of anecdote, but your stance is unfunnily laughable even so: Being stopped while walking to school may be irritating, but being shot by a firing squad is forever.

      • Erich Zann

        Actually, Mr. Spencer, I have heard many stories of white kids being stopped by the police simply because the cop didn’t like the look of them. In fact, that very thing happened to me when I was younger. It didn’t cause me to believe that I was living in a police state, and I didn’t even consider fleeing the country. I’ve always been under the impression that significantly worse things were happening in Cuba.

  • Lucy Mcgee

    In the late 80′s, I befriended a fellow student who would become a fisheries manager for Ted Turner at his Flying D ranch in Montana. At that time, he revealed stories of Turner traveling to Cuba to fish and explore the best this island nation offered. Turner held Castro in esteem. I didn’t get it.

    I have no understanding of what the average Cuban faces, but have read that prior to Castro, Cuba had become the “red light district” for the U.S. and that Batista was also a dictatorial operator. His regime allowed drugs and prostitution to flourish and catered to the rich and famous. He took large advantage of his power for personal gain.

    A documentary about Che Guevara paints a quite interesting portrait of a man who although viciously brutal, gained the respect of many of his countrymen. One has to wonder why?