Much praise is given to the concept of tolerance. Being tolerant is now a virtue above most in the dominant culture, even in spite of becoming paradox when encountering the opposite of itself (That is – should we tolerate intolerance? Who knows?!). Many have made the point that tolerance is a directionless action or choice, which puts it at odds with every other virtue. In other words, tolerance can be aimed at both good and bad actions and beliefs, which means that in its very essence, it cannot be considered a virtue. Tolerance of murder is an extreme but illustrative answer. No need to dive into that argument, as I have done so before here, here, here, and here.
Today I would rather briefly speculate about how tolerance is a facade of a virtue – a mere narrowing band of select values that are sexual and religious in nature. In short, the promotion of tolerance as a value is ongoing while we essentially are facing totalitarian rule by the government and big corporations.
Take some guy, Sean. Sean wants us all to be tolerant, and he talks about it all the time and chides everyone who says anything bad about gay marriage or women who try to pay their Duke tuition by starring in porn. Meanwhile Sean votes in his state election for a middle-of-the-road candidate Ron who will capriciously push multitudes of laws that reqire or prohibit a good manner of behavior and activity. While Sean has spoken in favor of tolerance and is seeking open discussion of issues he deems importance, he has used his democratic power as a voter (if the power exists at all, otherwise it is simply assent to the candidacy of Ron) to force others to do what he would like. While he shouts “tolerance” from the rooftop, he has underhandedly acted against his own proclamations and forced his views on others.
The truth of the matter is, that the regulatory burden of the average person has increased quite severely in the past few decades, especially in an economic realm. This means that while people are acting as though the discussion is polite and harmless, most everyone who aligns themselves with a political party in America seeks to use fines, prison, and guns to force their beliefs onto everyone else. I hear constant talk about how we should be tolerant, and thankful for the disagreements we all have. But there is a problem, if you are me. When I say these things about our society, I want them as much as you do. But you are the one among us willing to put a gun in my face to get it done. Where you want the law to push the agenda of tolerance, I am unwilling to use the violence you employ to have your will actualized.
This leaves us with only one possibility of what tolerance means: “be accepting of these few selected values I have chosen, which I have not had success in legislating such that your opinion no longer matters.” It is obvious from this view that the only tolerant people out there are those unwilling to use the political means against others. That’s it. Tolerance is an absence of force, and those professing it rarely understand the fact.
A slight deviation from the above, why is it that those who constantly profess tolerance as the pinnacle virtue are the most intolerant of alternative viewpoints to their own? Good friends in recent days remind me that the so-called “tolerants” are some of the most ideologically bigoted of all…