Intolerant of Your Intolerance

There are a great many causes worth fighting for right now, but most of them revolve around the idea of tolerance. Tolerance will ensure fair and equal treatment regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or religious or political affiliation.

Yet those who support this kind of tolerance are frequently intolerant of those who think differently. They will start yelling at and arguing with anyone who disagrees. There will be name-calling, using such words as close-minded, bigot, homophobe, racist, sexist, pig, troll, and plenty more creative ones.

Is this not the very behavior tolerance seeks to eliminate? Is this — condemning someone for holding a different opinion or lifestyle — not a display of intolerance? These arguments end with two sides shouting “I’m right and you’re wrong” at each other. No progress will be made that way. The results will only be frustration and anger, maybe even hatred.

Frustration, anger, hatred… these are not totems of tolerance. They are marks of intolerance.

When people get into such arguments, they foster not a world based on fairness and equality, but on intolerance of different beliefs. It’s the same world they’re trying to change.

A world that accepts people for who they are; what they look like; who, how, and what they love… we will not achieve that world through petty arguments about who is right and who is wrong, nor through forcing beliefs unto others. We will achieve it through accepting those who are different, whose opinions are unlike our own.

I’m aware there are many cases where this argument breaks down. There are times when we cannot tolerate someone’s behavior, or when someone’s world view is capable of becoming destructive. I also understand there are times when we must stand up for ourselves and our beliefs. But the incessant bickering will not create the world of acceptance so many of us dream of.

Take pride in yourself and your beliefs, and let others do the same. Is that not what tolerance is about?

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About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on July 24, 2012, in Real Life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. Savitri Ananda

    I couldn’t agree more. Some of the most intolerant people I know are the ones who preach a message of tolerance–of course, it is always tolerance based on “you must interpret your religion the way that I do.” Glad you are posting about this important topic!

  2. While screaming and shouting is of course never positive, your post suffers from the major structural flaw that you are suggesting that intolerance is a form of tolerance. It is not, it is the opposite of tolerance, hence the ‘in’. So, no, people who believe in tolerance cannot be tolerant of those who believe in intolerance – they are natural antonyms. If you had instead based your argument about which out of racism, sexism etc you supported, the post would make more sense.

    • I rarely write posts in this style, so I’m not surprised if my opinion isn’t crystal clear. My intent was never to suggest that intolerance is a form of tolerance. If you could point out specific examples of how I suggest this, I will gladly adjust my post to better reflect my intent. I do not support racism, sexism, or anything remotely similar, so if that is the impression this post gives off, perhaps I should rewrite it entirely.

      Thank you for your input!

  3. What you’re saying certainly makes some amount of sense, but think of it in terms of victims rather than perpetrators. If person A is homosexual, for example, that doesn’t hurt anyone else (despite what some people may claim). Now if person B tried to denounce this person for being a homosexual, that’s intolerant. And if person C tries to argue against B’s intolerance, that’s intolerant, too. But unlike A, who isn’t hurting anyone, B’s intolerance is harmful to A and other people. So they don’t exactly have the same right to be tolerated, I should think.

    • Certainly people who are hateful are less likely to be tolerated in many situations. However, shooting that hatred back at that person is also not likely to improve said hateful person or the situation at hand. Consider how Yuna stands up for herself against Dona in FFX. Sure, her tactics are soft and Dona’s still a jerk even afterward, but Yuna avoids spreading the hate Dona planted. Such a method won’t work in all cases, but if we avoid turning opinions into competitions about whose is better, we could lessen a lot of hate and antagonism all around, I think.

      “Having so many guardians is a joy and a privilege, even more so than being my father’s daughter. But I wouldn’t question your ways, either. So I ask you, leave us in peace.”

    • I agree that there is often intolerance from those that preach tolerance. While indifference is not the answer, there needs to be some sense of acceptance that not all people’s views will coincide. People need to learn to live with differing opinions.

      Shard, this an interesting point on victimology. Those “victimized” by intolerance should have the right to stand up for themselves, and in fact there are some that have. On the other hand, I disagree with the implication that Person C’s intolerance of Person B is not harmful to Person B. For example, Person A is a homosexual. Person B denounces Person A for being such on religious grounds and their personal beliefs. Person C denounces Person B for being intolerant of Person A on the basis of their own personal beliefs. Person A feels victimized, but Person B may also feel victimized. “This is my religion, I have the right to believe what I want to believe.” Thus brings up the argument, who is the one being intolerant here. Are B and C not both intolerant?

      • I wasn’t trying to say that person B isn’t harmed by person C’s behavior (and I should clarify that person C could very well be the same person as A, although it doesn’t really matter), what I was trying to say is that person B is doing something wrong and perhaps deserves the punishment they receive for it.

        As far as the bit about religion, that actually gives me an opportunity to expound upon something I left out of my first comment. I personally believe that people can believe whatever they want. There are many different reasons why someone might believe something, be it religion, creed, upbringing, or whatever else, and other people don’t necessarily have the right to force them to change that belief. However, the problem arises when people try to push their harmful views on other people. Beliefs are fine, but when those beliefs are used as a basis to be intolerant and hateful toward innocent people, then they stop being okay in my books.

  4. The funny thing about freedom of speech is that it doesn’t guarantee the freedom to be abusive or idiotic. This is why the “tolerant” people you speak of try to silence the “intolerant” people (i.e. homophobes, sexists, racists, etc). What people need to realize is that indifference does not spark change. If we all just stood nice and dandy and let everyone say what they want to say, I’m afraid we’d be looking at the start of an apocalypse. So sometimes bickering and arguing is essential.

    • Indifference changes nothing, I agree. My argument is silencing those who hold separate opinions is an intolerant act, even if those separate opinions are those of hate.

      Standing up for ourselves and our beliefs is essential, especially if we seek change. But arguments frequently become competitions, with neither side having the humility to admit defeat. Yet if we lead through action instead of words, we can sway others with our fervor. Sometimes, the loudest people are those who do not speak, but act. Show the world that remarks of hatred mean nothing, and do not stoop to the level of yelling and calling names, for returning the hate will only bring more.

      Such a policy will not work out for the best in every situation, but think of how many Internet arguments could be avoided!

      • I understand what you’re saying but even then it doesn’t sound too realistic. Not all people carefully watch the actions of others nor do I feel that “remarks of hatred mean nothing”. It’s very possible to argue with someone in a mature manner and not stoop to name-calling and yelling.

        • Ending world hunger isn’t realistic, either, but a great many people still fight for it.

          Mature and intelligent debates force people to think critically and consider separate viewpoints. The trick is to keep hatred and intolerance out of these debates, regardless of what you’re fighting for. Remarks of hatred do hurt, but there are better ways to respond to them than much of what I have seen. Hate begets more hate, so why not try to stop the cycle yourself? By refusing to reciprocate hatred, one person can generate a level of tolerance many others only claim to.

        • Yes, all of that I understand. But when I say “arguing is healthy” I’m not necessarily referring to yelling and name-calling, thus the reason I said people are capable of it without stooping to that level. What you’re essentially implying in your response is that by arguing with someone, one is reciprocating hatred, which isn’t always the case. The whole point I was trying to make is that people CAN argue with others about their intolerances without shutting them down in an insulting way. Scientists have been doing it for centuries and if it weren’t for that one person who questioned another’s hypothesis, we wouldn’t have the advances we have today. Additionally, “what you have seen” shouldn’t be the basis of your opinion because the world isn’t black and white. THIS is the point I am trying so desperately to make, but instead you keep dancing around my valid points. I’m not advocating hatred, I’m just providing my two cents.

        • I most certainly agree that some forms of arguing are acceptable, and in fact necessary.

          One thing I must point out however, is your comment on opinions. Opinions are formed based on what we have experienced: our lives, the lives of those around us, what we have read and witnessed to name a few of the inputs. While the world is by no means black and white, neither are opinions. However, to suggest that one base their opinions on anything beyond their experiences is an impossibility. Therefore, arguing that “what you have seen” is not the basis of one’s opinion is utter nonsense. If I am misinterpreting your words, please do try to explain in another way.

        • What I meant to say is this: the author is implying that because he/she (I really don’t know the author’s gender given the name “Squishy”, no offence) has *experienced* (the use of asterisks is to replace the lack of italicization) people bickering while discussing each other’s intolerances, he/she feels that argumentative speech is non-essential to solving intolerance. Thus, he/she is implying that we as people shouldn’t bother discussing intolerance at all because in the past he/she has only seen it being lead to name-calling, yelling and general frustration. What I was illustrating is that *those* experiences shouldn’t serve as the basis for what he/she feels about arguments and/or discussions about intolerance as a whole because not all will end the same way.

        • I can elaborate more if that didn’t make sense.

        • Your phrasing made sense, but unfortunately your interpretation is far from my intent. Could you point out specific examples that gave you this impression? If my writing is unclear, I would like to fix it. Thanks!

        • In your post, you said: “[Yet] Those who support this kind of tolerance are frequently intolerant of those who think differently. They will start yelling at and arguing with anyone who disagrees. There will be name-calling, using such words as close-minded, bigot, homophobe, racist, sexist, pig, troll, and plenty more creative ones.” This kind of statement draws solely on your negative experiences with argumentative discussion. You again draw on your negative experiences in your statement: “Remarks of hatred do hurt, but there are better ways to respond to them than much of what I have seen.” This leads to me, as the reader, assuming that you’re basing your opinion entirely on these negative experiences. Rather than expressing your disapproval of INSULTING argumentative discussions, you insinuate that discussing intolerances altogether should be avoided:
          “But arguments frequently become competitions, with neither side having the humility to admit defeat. Yet if we lead through action instead of words, we can sway others with our fervor. Sometimes, the loudest people are those who do not speak, but act. Show the world that remarks of hatred mean nothing, and do not stoop to the level of yelling and calling names, for returning the hate will only bring more.” Which is why I stated that “Not all people carefully watch the actions of others nor do I feel that ‘remarks of hatred mean nothing'”.

          In reality, what I said is true. Not all people watch the actions of others and look to them as examples of how to behave. Think about the Westboro Baptist Church for example. In their lives I’m sure there are many positive influences to look upon. Instead, however, they choose to live a life of hatred which then leads to other individuals or groups of individuals speaking out against them. In your opinion however, I believe you probably would found it better if we did not confront them and instead tried to lead by action (correct me if I am wrong, but that is what I got so far). This kind of hope can only be truly realized in some kind of utopia. In laymens terms, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it.

        • I see. In that case, there’s naught I can do. Interpret how you will!

          Thank you for the demonstration!

        • Haha, don’t worry. You have good intentions and no one is forcing you to change your opinion.

        • On the contrary, you proved my point! So thank you, very much. This has been fun!

        • *probably would find it

          Darn my grammar.

  5. Did you post this or is someone impersonating you?

    • who do you think stole it ClaireT ?

      • Who knows. This blog is open to the entirety of the Internet, so it could be anyone. I’m not surprised, though I am a little confused as to why, what did/does the impersonator get from it? Me being not very well-known, I make a good victim — few readers means few people who will recognize my post if it’s misplaced. It makes me a bit reluctant to continue posting original material…

    • I know Claire T stop impersonating her .

      Rikki,

      xx

    • Thank you so much for alerting me to this, Claire! Yes, the post on that forum was in fact theft from this blog, also known as copyright infringement. I’ve contacted StockingsHQ asking them to take care of it. I was wondering where the boost in traffic was coming from…

      • Squishy, do you have access to the IP addresses of the people who reply to this blog? If so, please could you let me have the address of the person who posted as “Claire T”, probably the person who stole your article and impersonated you on SHQ.

      • Squishy, do you have access to the IP addresses of the people who reply to this blog? If so, please could you let me have the address of the person who posted as “Claire ”, probably the person who stole your article and impersonated you on SHQ.

        • Dear imposter, unless you posted first, you’re not the real “Claire”. Anyone can see that and it’s going to be pretty difficult even for your unoriginal mind.

    • Yes I do know that site

      Rikki,

      xx

    • the well meaning persons post as now been removed from that website .

  6. Maybe much confusion and what looks like contradictions is due to the ambiguity of the words ‘tolerance’ and ‘intolerance’. They are a bit too stretchable. Of course, supporting ‘tolerance’ does not mean tolerating murder, fascism, abuse, or any other kind of nasty behavior that human beings indulge in. ‘Tolerance’ does not mean that ‘intolerance’ is acceptable or should not be challenged. A devoted ‘tolerance’ supporter is expected to oppose racism, misogyny, homophobia, elder abuse, and other types of discrimination or ‘intolerance’. He would also be expected to object to hate mongering and propaganda against a group of people. ‘Tolerance’ means accepting all sorts of people—not the bad things that they do.

    There is a much better, more precise term for ‘embracing diversity’ that we can use: Pluralism. Here’s what the Aga Khan said about pluralism:

    In the troubled times in which we live, it is important to remember, and honor, a vision of a pluralistic society. 
    Tolerance, openness, and understanding towards other peoples’ cultures, social structures, values, and faiths are now essential to the very survival of an interdependent world. 
    Pluralism is no longer simply an asset or a prerequisite for progress and development; it is vital to our existence.

    His Highness the
    Aga Khan

    • Pluralism itself is quite ambiguous, intentionally so, even. Not that that’s a bad thing! In fact, Pluralism sounds quite lovely and is indeed similar to what I discuss here. However, my personal preference is to stay away from categories and labels. I would rather talk about general traits than a specific lifestyle or religion, for numerous reasons. Again, personal preference.

      Thank you for your comment! I appreciate the input.

      • It surprised me that you rejected the idea of replacing the term ‘tolerance’ with the term ‘pluralism’ where applicable, because that would solve an issue that you touched on; nonsensical conclusions due to the ambiguity of the word ‘tolerance’. Ambiguity in itself is not the problem; what matters is if it confuses meaning.

        Your premise for your article; that people who support tolerance often are intolerant and guilty of Incessant bickering, is something I would like to know more about. Would you please direct me to the source of that information?

        Your comment about wanting to stay away from “categories and labels” piques my curiosity. There must be something specific you have in mind. It seems to me that it would be difficult to discuss anything without using such words.

        I’m afraid you are unclear about the meaning of ‘pluralism’ if you believe it’s about specific lifestyles or religions. I wonder what you mean with ‘general traits’ and if there is any reason why they would not be covered by the concept of pluralism.

        • The source of my information is personal experience. An (albeit inorganic) example of what I mean is in the opening of Boondock Saints, when Connor and Murphy try training the new person. The new person plays the role of the “tolerant” person who is intolerant of others.

          My goal with this blog is to point out everyday things that interest me in some way. In that strain, I would no sooner tout plurlism than minimalism or extremism. In addition, the notion of tolerance is universal and easily-understood, whereas pluralism is an uncommon phrase I’m not sure many people have heard of, much less understand. I appreciate your input and comments on pluralism, of course, and hope others gain knowledge from it, but blogging and teaching about pluralism and the like is beyond what I feel comfortable doing here.

          Ambiguity and confused meanings are not the issue, I don’t think. It’s human nature to believe what works for us must work for other people, and we frequently try to prove to others how we are right and they are wrong. However, in doing so, we can make things worse for ourselves and for others. The difficulty is knowing when to speak up in defense of our beliefs (whether those are beliefs of tolerance, pluralism, or something else entirely), and when to keep quiet and tolerate others who hold different beliefs.

  7. …the notion of tolerance is universal and easily-understood, whereas pluralism is an uncommon phrase…

    Your article demonstrates that the meaning of tolerance is easily misunderstood, and commonly too, I would add. No wonder; the word has several meanings that are easily confused. This isn’t the first time I have heard it argued that unless you are accepting, or ‘tolerant’, of everyone and everything they do; you don’t qualify to be called ‘tolerant’, or something along those lines. That would mean that a ‘tolerant’ person is expected to have no objection to murder, fascism, bullying, white supremacism, etc., which is ludicrous. The advantage of using the word ‘pluralism’ is that it is specific enough that such nutty arguments are avoided. You are right that the term is not well known—yet—but if it does the job much better than other options, it makes sense to use it so that it becomes more familiar. ‘Embrace diversity’ is another possibility.

    It is perfectly possible to be a passionate supporter of ‘tolerance’ as well as a critical thinker. It will only be when you are accused of hypocrisy for not being ‘tolerant’ of bad things, that you will know that you are dealing with someone who has confused the meanings of the word, as you did in your article.

    • Can you point out exactly where I say “unless you are accepting, or ‘tolerant’, of everyone and everything they do; you don’t qualify to be called ‘tolerant’” or insinuate that “a ‘tolerant’ person is expected to have no objection to murder, fascism, bullying, white supremacism, etc.”?

  8. Dear Claire, it’s you who is the the imposter you’re not the real “Claire T”. Anyone can see that , please stop causing trouble .

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