Costumes and Tolerance

I’m intolerant of intolerance. That makes me a hypocrite.

Not too long ago, I was in downtown Bozeman, photographing the annual Bozeman Classic running race. Bozeman has a high “buff factor,” as one new arrival put it. Lots of people enjoy lots of exercise and there is a pretty steady diet of running races in and around our area. These are usually fun, social events with a wide range of abilities welcome and celebrated. And oftentimes, people like to dress up.

 

 

 

Then, on my way back to the car, I see this guy:

I said it before: I’m intolerant of intolerance. That makes me a hypocrite.

So I photographed this man and his tattoos. I was offended by his audacity, by his pride. I looked up the words permanently written into his flesh. The words he paraded down Main Street in my town, in front of my friends and my family. The words have a hateful history, used by Hitler to justify the Holocaust. How can I be tolerant of that? In my eyes, this man stands for hatred, he stands for evil. He stands for everything that is wrong with our world today.

I should have talked to him, gotten his side of the story. But I didn’t. I was too shocked, too outraged.

The day after I made these photographs, Wade Michael Page, a white supremacist, shot and killed six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.

Yesterday, the temple held services for the first time since the shootings. They talked about healing, about moving on, about coming together.

I doubt I would have been that strong if I were in their place.

 

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4 thoughts on “Costumes and Tolerance

  1. Sickening, but we need to respect people’s rights to be idiots, even if they are filled with divisiveness and hate. After all, our current president (Obama) is a very divisive person, attacking businesses and “the rich” by wrongly vilifying them.

  2. I, like you, am intolerant of intolerance. Our freedom of speech is to be valued, even when disagreeable, but this message carries with it the load of millions of innocent people killed by the Nazi regime. Anyone who would decorate himself with such hate, for all to see, could be a danger to our community. This should be sent to the proper authorities.

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