Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tolerance is a privilege - not a right

Tolerance is a word that is bandied about an awful lot these days - particularly by those on the liberal left - and yet little thought is given to what tolerance means and how it should be applied.

Tolerance does not mean - as some seem to think - acceptance. It actually means "to put up with" - usually for a particular behaviour with defined limits and the implied understanding that should those limits be breached then toleration of that behaviour will be withdrawn. As such, tolerance is a privilege and not a right. No one and no behaviour has a right to be tolerated - instead that tolerance has to be earned.

Consequently, tolerance can not be legislated for - as the progressives increasingly try to do. When they try to do this it is actually counter productive because the more you try and instruct people to tolerate something the more likely they are to resent being told to put up with something which they do not like - and they will say so.

So what the left then do is legislate to prevent people saying that they don't like the sort of behaviour they are being asked to tolerate which makes the people even more resentful - but worse still, rather than openly discussing their concerns, they keep their thoughts private or share them only amongst their close friends and family.

The result of this, as we are seeing increasingly in Britain today, is that there is more likely to be intolerance of certain behaviours by ever more people than there was 50 years ago. This is because those who wish to indulge in certain behaviours did so with more and more disregard for the concerns of those who were being asked to tolerate those behaviours - but successive progressive governments told those people to shut up - by law.

So they did - and that caused even deeper resentment. Once that point was reached it was inevitable that many people would kick back in any way that they could. Some did so by forming their own behaviours which others were forced to accept, while others went further and started physically attacking people or groups whose behaviour they found unacceptable.

The attempts by successive governments to enforce tolerance has led to an even more fractured society with various "tribes" establishing their own "safe havens". It's not helped by the left dictating what can and can not be tolerated - as if this was either reasonable or possible! What gives anyone - whether they are in government or not - the right to tell someone else what they can or can not find acceptable?

It's like passing a law that everyone must like the colour green, but no one is allowed to like orange. What happens if someone doesn't like green, but really likes orange?

Nobody and no behaviour has an automatic right to be tolerated. It is a privilege that they earn by moderating that behaviour in such a way so that others are not offended by it. It doesn't matter what that behaviour is - binge-drinking, homosexuality, racism, infidelity or whatever - the behaviour has to be moderated to within tolerable limits for the rest of society.

And the more militant a group is about demanding "tolerance" the more likely they are going to find that society is not willing to tolerate their behaviour any longer.


Larry Newman said...

Yet again, you've nailed it Stan.

I'm more intolerant of muslims and homosexuals now than I've ever been, and that's probably due to my awareness of media bias and being told what to think and how to act. I don't like being told how to think and how to act.

Homosexuality, for example, would be better tolerated if they all stayed in the closet and stopped talking about this form of deviance.

Brian E. said...

I suspect that most of those who call for tolerance don't even know the true meaning of the word. Those calling for tolerance are actually calling for you not just to put up with something you dislike but in effect for you to stop disliking it forthwith, with legal penalties if you don't. That is not tolerance, it is indoctrination!
The fact that the English are generally far too tolerant has let to the country being in its prsent mess!

Anonymous said...

Very true, being of mixed race myself I never had a racist bone in my body until this lot started to force it down my throat. Same about religion, couldn't care less what if anything people believed until the pandering to Muslims, indeed everyone except white/christian/ English people. As a member of a drama club I always knew lots of gay people and never gave it a thought as there was more to people then who they have sex with. Now far from just taking people as I find them I feel obliged to approve as being gay is lauded instead of just being a part of someone's make up. I am far more intolerant than I was 20 years ago.

Richard said...


That's a very interesting comment. I do think that all the leftist 'pro-tolerance' propaganda does create divisions, where previously there weren't any.

RonMossad said...

Tolerance breeds intolerance? How can this be?

Historically, the indecent minority has only been able to succeed due to the indifference of the decent majority. Understanding other cultures and peoples is a wonderful approach to life, but enabling intolerant cultures (that seek to restrict our own freedoms) is where we must draw the line.