Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tolerating Tolerance For Tolerance's Sake

There's always a lot of talk about "tolerance." Liberals accuse conservatives of being "intolerant," conservatives accuse liberals of tolerating everything... and the conversation pretty much goes downhill from there.

But what is this "tolerance?" What does it mean and what are we supposed to do with it? Nobody wants to be thought of as an intolerant bigot... that's just not a fun label. And so we're supposed to sugar coat the truth about lifestyle choices, about abortion, about Islam, etc... so that we will appear to be "tolerant." 

Both liberal and conservative leaning politicos have their limits of what they will and will not tolerate, so this argument that one party is more tolerant than the other is ridiculous. We've come to the point in our political discussions where the only certainties are that liberals and conservatives don't tolerate one another. 

Seriously, though, general conservative thought does not tolerate abortion on demand, living a homosexual lifestyle (although there are some homosexuals who identify themselves as politically conservative), intrusive government, and high taxes. (And no, telling me that outlawing the killing of children based on their location at the time is "government intrusion" does not convince me that I should be pro-choice. That would be like saying that laws should be written to allow the killing of people if they're located in our home - otherwise we've got a government intruding on "freedom of association.")

So clearly, conservatives are an intolerant bunch. 

However, liberal thought will not tolerate intolerance. This gets dizzyingly funny, actually -- because their unwillingness to tolerate intolerance should make them disgusted with themselves... since they're being intolerant. 

I had a discussion at one point with someone who thought that it was wrong for me to say that homosexuality was wrong. The long and short of it was that this person thought I was being judgmental because I was judging an activity as "wrong" and, therefore, I was wrong to do so. I looked at this person and said, "Well, doesn't that make you wrong, then? If you're going to judge me as being wrong for judging something as being wrong -- aren't you condemned by your own system of beliefs?"

People have a sense of right and wrong -- it's not possible for us to tolerate everything, nor should we. It's up to us to use sound judgment (yes, we have to judge...) and discernment when making decisions as to what we will and will not tolerate. 

I find it telling that liberals will (generally) not fully embrace many of the things that they profess to tolerate. Abortion? It's a sad necessity... Homosexuality? Well, they appear to embrace the idea as long as nobody is facing the truth about the health risks and typical behaviors associated with the lifestyle. Islam? It's a peaceful religion and if we only installed more foot baths, the Muslims would love us and ask to become American citizens... (Yes, I know that the Bush administration has also called it a peaceful religion... drives me crazy.) Christianity? NO... Christians are intolerant and cannot be tolerated!!!! 

Okay - so I can tolerate homosexuals. I really can. That doesn't mean that I agree with their choice of lifestyle... but I can deal with the fact that they're there and that they choose to live that way. I can even just let them live out their lives as they see fit without trying to interfere. Islam? I can tolerate people practicing a religion that I find to be worthless, as long as they're not rabidly trying to force me to practice it with them. It's the "cut off their heads" variety I cannot tolerate. And abortion? Well, it's currently a fact of life and I can tolerate that. But I don't have to embrace it... 

One thing that I will not do, though, is tolerate tolerance for tolerance's sake. There's just no point.

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