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Everybody loves diversity. I mean, everybody loves the word “diversity.” This is to be separated from the actual reality of diversity, which most people hate with a violent passion. In that way, diversity can be compared to jogging or camping — everyone likes the idea of liking it, they like it in theory, but they hate it in actuality. Let me give you an example. Over the last couple of days I’ve discussed my thoughts on gay marriage. I’ve introduced my ideas on the subject and tried to explain them thoroughly. Today, I made the point that — from my perspective — marriage is not an invention of man, like soccer or Harry Potter, but a natural reality merely discovered and understood by man, like three toed sloths or geometry. It is possessed of a natural essence and we can no more change the rules of marriage than we can change the rules of mathematics. It is not subjective or relative. Rather, it is indivisible, irreducible and real. Anyway, those are my ideas. Maybe a bit abstract, but I thought I’d bring them up in hopes of having an enlightening and engaging debate on the philosophy and metaphysics involved. Instead, I got a bunch of emails like this one, from a guy named Nate:

“Matt, I don’t care what bullsh*t you say you only are against gay marriage because you are a bigotted prejudiced f*cking piece of sh*t. Why don’t you go away and die somewhere. The world is becoming more diverse whether you like it or not. You f*cking Jesus freaks would like to kill all gays if you could wouldn’t you? Sorry that we actually have some tolerance and diversity in this country now you redneck motherf*cker.”

This fascinating contribution to the dialogue would be echoed by several other tolerant and loving individuals. This — this email right here — is what most people mean when they say they want “diversity.” They mean the sort of diversity where everyone thinks the exact same way about everything. They mean the sort of diversity where varying viewpoints are met with a bunch of vulgarity and hatred, wrapped around a nice little death wish or two. Diversity, don’t you love it?

Here’s the definition of “diversity” in modern America: “A bunch of people with different skin pigmentations and sexual proclivities, all dedicated to the ruthless and mindless eradication of any beliefs or ideas that fall outside of the orthodoxy established by their leaders in the government and media.”

I’d hate to go to a restaurant run by one of these people. The “wide selection” on the menu would be the exact same dish served on different plates and with different utensils. Can you imagine Christmas morning with one of these modern diversity lovers? Everyone would get the exact same toaster oven packaged in different color wrapping paper. These champions of variety totally love different styles, as long as the substance is precisely the same.

Here’s a challenge: Try embracing real diversity. Try to love, respect and encourage a diversity of IDEAS. That’s the only type of diversity that means anything. It’s certainly the only type of diversity that makes life more vibrant and interesting. But there’s a catch. A diversity of ideas may challenge you. It may require patience and understanding. It may even require you to use your mind and question your own preconceived notions. It may enrage you, confuse you, disturb you. And that’s OK. That’s the whole point. It isn’t clean or tidy. It can be messy and uncomfortable. But, in the end, it will expand your universe and make you a better person. Another caveat: If you truly value ideas, you will engage them, instead of reflexively shouting slogans and insults at them.

Simple skin deep diversity, or diversity of sexual preferences, requires nothing from you. So you can sit back and not give a crap about how other people look and what they do behind closed doors? Hey, good for you. Want a cookie? Seriously, fantastic. You’re my hero. One day we will build a monument to you. It will be a statue of you, sitting on the couch, not caring about things. Now, can we kick this diversity deal up a notch? After all, if you’ve mastered the rather easy task of simply tolerating different types of people, yet you throw a damned hissy fit when one of them voices a well reasoned thought you disagree with, then you are, it turns out, a fraud and a bigot. The worst kind of bigot, too. Frankly, I’d rather you hate the fact that I’m white and detest my Irish heritage and violently despise every other exterior detail of my being, yet still take my ideas and thoughts seriously, then have you merely “accept” my race and culture (what choice do you have, anyway?) but then react with enraged and idiotic hysteria at my deepest thoughts and beliefs. But that’s just me. I value ideas. I love them. I am fascinated by them. I spend almost all of my time exploring them. This emailer doesn’t. He lives in a world of ignorance but he feels alright about it because he also doesn’t care who his neighbor has sex with tonight.

Good for him. I find him boring and I find his principles to be lacking in principle. I don’t judge him for his ideas, I judge him for his lack of them. I think intellectual cowardice is the worst and most revolting sort of cowardice. And it turns men into shameless, pitiful little things.