I don't care if you're an American or a Saudi Arabian, conservative or liberal, Muslim or Christian, you've got to admire the 9/11 hijackers for standing with conviction, even as they opened themselves and their families up to criticism.
That is an absurd claim, is it not?
Yet, Jemele Hill at ESPN.com made a statement much like this with respect to Florida Gators quarterback Jemele Hill:
I don't care if you're pro-choice or pro-life, conservative or liberal, god-fearing or atheist, you've got to admire Tebow for standing with conviction, even as he is opening himself and his family up to criticism
(See: ESPN.com: Jemele Hill, Laud the courage in Tim Tebow's stand.)
The claim that I must admire Tebow merely for the act of standing up for what he believed is to say that I must admire the KKK member who marches through a Jewish neighborhood standing up for what he believes, in spite of the criticism he gets. It is the same as saying that I must admire the true Nazi who proudly participated in and defended the Holocaust because he is willing to stand up for what he believes in the face of criticism.
I do not need to admire these people - not in the slightest.
At this point, many demagogues and the sophists will have already formed an angry retort in his head by saying, "How dare you compare Tebow's stand on abortion to the terrorist or the Nazi. That is absolutely repulsive, and you owe Tebow and his family an apology for suggesting such a thing."
Yet, I am not the one who said that there is no morally relevant difference between Tebow and the terrorist or the Nazi. Jamelle Hill said that. Hill is the one who told us that the content of the beliefs that one is standing up for is not morally relevant - the only thing that matters is that the person be willing to stand up for something. Anything.
If anybody owes Tebow and his family an apology, Jemele Hill does, because Hill argued that the content of what one stands up for is not morally relevant - as long as one is willing to stand for something.
If the content of what one stands for is not morally relevant, then there is no morally relevant difference between Tebow and the terrorist or the KKK member or the proud Nazi. When it comes to a willingness to stand up an defend what one believes in the face of criticism, all of these people are alike.
If one wants to say that there is a difference between them, that difference can only be found in their content. One has to say that the person who stands opposed to abortion is better than the others, and that betterness has to come from something other than merely being willing to stand up for one's beliefs.
Tebow is different from the terrorist only if content matters, and the content of Tebow's convictions are somehow better than those of the terrorist, proud Nazi, or KKK member.
If content matters, then the claim that we must admire Tebow merely for the act of standing up for what he believes regardless of whether he is right or wrong has to be rejected.
If content matters, we still have an open question as to whether Tebow did anything to be proud of, or whether he decided to promote attitudes and beliefs that actually deserve the support of such a public figure. Or whether, instead, he has given his name and his fame to causes that do not deserve his or anybody's support.