WWSP's "The Alternate Boot!"

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Tolerating the Intolerant, it's Intolerable...

A good friend of mine posted this quote from "philosopher of Science," Karl Popper:

"Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them." --Karl Popper

I commented that it was a conundrum: "an intricate and difficult problem." This concept of tolerance: "sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own."

We have been taught that tolerance is a social good, that we should be sensitive to beliefs or practices of others, even if, and when, those beliefs and practices differ or conflict with our own.

But there are limits, right? Unlimited tolerance can destroy the foundations of a civil society. This social good can lead to deep social bad! Lately, we are seeing folks hype the hate, and that hyping leads to murder, domestic terrorism, fueled by deeply irrational and destructive anti-semitism, racism, anti-immigrant hysteria.

Of course, there are norms, there are laws. But when we start getting to specifics, things get a bit complicated. When does your tolerance lead to intolerable actions? When does your freedom to think and to speak, lead to the unthinkable, the unspeakable?

It all works better on a personal level. I don't tolerate racism, anti-semitism, anti-immigrant views in my personal life. If you are a racist, if you are an anti-semite, or an anti-immigrant, you are not a friend of mine. I have no problem cutting off these people in my life. I don't need friends like that, I don't need to hear from them, or hang with them. Life is too short to spend time with assholes.

But then, in the larger world, in our society, in our country, who decides what is tolerable and what is not? What views, what words, what thoughts are just not acceptable? Quoting a line from a Woody Allen movie: "If you become too different, you become a subversive Mother." When is it acceptable, when is it necessary to be a "subversive Mother," when is it not?

I guess I'd say we should not tolerate the intolerant, we must be become intolerant of the intolerant, anyone who intentionally will hurt another human being. That is just not acceptable in any way, shape or form. We are all human beings first. In that way, we are all the same.

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