Joseph Backholm is Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview and Political Engagement at Family Research Council. This article appeared in WORLD Magazine on June 23, 2022.
Our culture’s gospel of tolerance has destroyed the ability to identify threats to children
In a world filled with strange developments, perhaps one of the strangest is America’s new fascination with connecting kids with drag queens. Evidently, like turkey at Thanksgiving, it just isn’t Pride Month if there aren’t any men dressed like women twerking in front of children.
The San Antonio Zoo is hosting a “family-friendly ticketed event for all ages” that will feature the drag queen group Extravagrams. The public library in San Lorenzo, Calif., near Oakland, hosted a Drag Queen Story Hour “designed for preschool aged children. However, all are welcome.” It isn’t just the adults who dance for the children. Increasingly, the children, dressed in drag, will dance provocatively for the adults as well. It’s challenging to decide which is worse.
In one of the more disturbing images from this year’s Pride festivities, a girl around 5 years old stuffs money into the underwear of a nearly naked drag queen while other adults smile and take photos. A middle school in Richmond, Calif., hosted an event featuring a drag queen who calls himself a name that is slang for something we won’t discuss here and indicates that the person involved should not be anywhere near children. A middle school in Illinois also hosted a drag queen who happened to be an employee of the district. A Pride event in Cedar Springs, Texas, called “Drag Your Kids to Pride” was advertised as a “family-friendly” event that featured a drag queen gyrating for children in front of a neon sign that read, well, again, we won’t say those words on this website.
As disturbing as all of this is—or at least should be—it shouldn’t be surprising. After all, drag queen culture is inherently sexual. The attire, makeup, names, and performances are intentionally—if not ridiculously—sexualized. This isn’t new. What is new is the idea that it is fit for children. But the internet is now filled with videos of kids and drag queens who were brought together in various ways by the adults who are supposed to care the most about children and know what is best for them.
Octogenarian Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who most certainly did not grow up attending drag shows as a child, appeared on a drag queen TV show and later said the freedom of expression of drag queens “is what America is all about.” James Madison probably has a different view.
The internet is now filled with videos of kids and drag queens who were brought together in various ways by the adults who are supposed to care the most about children and know what is best for them.
What happened to us? “Tolerance” happened.
Not the kind of tolerance in which we encourage people to be kind to one another despite our differences. That kind of tolerance will always be helpful. The kind of tolerance that results in drag performances for preschoolers is a version that discourages moral judgments of any kind. Somehow, we came to redefine tolerance as the ability to be indifferent to terrible things. After all, it is one thing to believe, as a matter of civil liberties, that someone shouldn’t be casually thrown into prison for being provocative. It’s quite another to cheer when a 5-year-old approaches the provocateur to put dollar bills in his lingerie.
We applaud when we should be outraged because the gospel of tolerance tells us the only thing to be outraged by is outrage. It’s so judgmental.
The gospel of tolerance has destroyed our collective ability to identify and eliminate threats. In a sane world, the men being brought into schools to do modified strip teases for children would be given mental health services. In a rational world, the school administrators who allowed such a performance would be immediately fired if not run out of town by angry parents. In a sane world, adults who happen upon children at a drag queen performance would immediately assume a terrible mistake had been made and do their best to intervene on behalf of the children. But we are not in a sane world. We are in a self-declared tolerant world. As the saying goes, we have opened our minds so far that our brains have fallen out. And, as always, our kids are paying the price.