So much of today’s news, at least where the nation’s culture war is concerned, seems to happen on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook that it’s easy to lose track. When that news involves relatively unimportant professional athletes, it generally goes unnoticed except in circles relatively close to its epicenter. That is, it goes unnoticed unless the news can be used to further a special-interest group’s agenda. When that happens, one or more participants to the news will become virtual pariahs – heretics before the altar of popular culture. Most recently, that pariah is, or is slated to become, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace. His crime? He said something that did not validate the personal choices and sexual predisposition of Washington Wizards center Jason Collins.

Oh, you’ve never heard of either one of them? Well, you will, now that both are becoming household names in the campaign to stitch to the social media pages of cultural heretics and in the collective consciousness of our nation the scarlet letter H. That’s right: Mike Wallace is a HOMOPHOBE. He is such a HOMOPHOBE that he should probably be fired by the Dolphins – an organization that has already condemned Wallace’s short-lived act of microblogging heresy.

“Mike Wallace has apologized for his comments, and we have addressed the matter with him,” quotes the gossip site TMZ. “Mike’s comments do not reflect the views of the Miami Dolphins. We believe in a culture of inclusiveness and respect, and any statements to the contrary are in no way acceptable to our organization. We will address the entire team about our policy of inclusion and make sure they all understand the importance of respecting individual choices.”

So the dolphins are all about respect and inclusion … unless the opinion expressed is one they don’t happen to respect or include. And what was Wallace’s terrible crime – a crime for which his own team has reprimanded him, apparently, and a crime for which he has himself apologized on Twitter after deleting the offending post?

“All these beautiful women in the world,” he tweeted shortly after Jason Collins announced publicly that he is “gay,” “and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH (shakin’ my head) …”

That’s it. That’s all he wrote. He didn’t mention Collins by name. He didn’t say anything overtly cruel or unkind about homosexuals. He wrote from the perspective of a straight man who appreciates beautiful women and doesn’t have a frame of reference for feeling otherwise. At worst, his comment reflects a lack of perspective, one that no straight man need or must acquire because it simply doesn’t apply to him. Taken charitably, his comment was a wry observation on the media circus surrounding Collins’ disclosure.

The TMZ site called Wallace “ignorant” (and worse) while mocking his attempt to apologize. Mr. Wallace is now the poster child for “homophobia” – a word that has no meaning now except, “To say something less than completely affirming of homosexuality.” It is no longer culturally possible to believe that being “gay” is something less than worthy of praise in and of itself.

For perspective, until 1973, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness in the standard reference Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It was not removed from the World Health Organization’s Classification of Diseases until 1999. Just last year, the province of Alberta removed from its medical services billing codes language that classifies gays, lesbians and bisexuals as mentally ill.

Whether one believes homosexuality is a mental illness is irrelevant. Neither your belief that it is (or isn’t) nor a homosexual American’s belief that you are (or aren’t) a “homophobe” is germane to a free society.

Both parties are free to believe as they do. “Tolerance,” in this context, is defined as neither party violating the other party’s natural rights. Simply put, neither the bigot nor the special-interest group need approve of one another as long as neither party is throwing bricks through the others’ windows.

Excoriating someone, not for saying that which is hateful, but simply for expressing a lack of sympathy for your position, is exactly like throwing a metaphorical brick at them. If you make someone an online outcast because he dared to say something less than completely affirming of your position, it is YOU who are engaging in some “-phobia.” You are so afraid of differing viewpoints that you must mischaracterize all dissent as irrational fear.

Jason Collins’ public announcement that he enjoys sexual intercourse with men instead of women is not news. It is his personal business, something for which he should be neither criticized nor lauded in the context of doing his job (playing in the NBA) or living his public life (going to the store, keeping company with his boyfriend, or what have you). His announcement has been called “courageous,” but one would think telling his fiancée of multiple years that he was homosexual before she spent years with him, or when he called off their marriage, would actually have been brave. His announcement now seems comparatively easy, especially with homosexuality a vaunted cause célèbre.

In today’s rootless, amoral society, the only boundaries to human behavior come in the form of an ever-encroaching government presence (as facilitated by totalitarian Democrats, who will not be satisfied until they have a say in every facet of your waking life) and in the form of peer reaction to your words and deeds. Because our society’s members now live their lives in the public square of the Internet, one’s peers form a much larger body than once they might have, and their reactions come immediately and in greater quantity than ever before. If you say something that flies in the face of prevailing sentiment, if you offend the wrong people, you will be pilloried online without delay.

Anyone who does not bow down before the idols of political correctness, anyone who expresses an opinion the libs have chosen to marginalize, will face social sanction. Right now, it is Mike Wallace’s turn in the stocks. Tomorrow, it may be yours.

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