Revisiting Tolerance

I wrote about tolerance a while ago. These sentiments of mine are nearly unchanged, but I think I need to address the specific issue of intolerance and its danger to an otherwise tolerant society. Basically one of the few things we have to be intolerant of is intolerance.

It seems self-defeating, if we are intolerant of intolerance then we are hypocritical. But let’s observe it from a slightly different vantage. Let us draw a hopefully erroneous link between intolerance and violence and say that every person disliking another person to the point of hate based on ethnicity is likely to be violent toward that ethnicity.

If we tolerate their hate but stop them from being violent, what have we accomplished? If we are perfectly omnipresent and can stop the violence before it begins, will the world be better? But we aren’t omnipresent, nor are our imperfect criminal justice representatives, and on top of that there can be threats of violence that can impact a person’s life just as much as a violent act, all the way up to death. You could call it psychological violence, let’s not escalate this too far. Unless the victim has a strong, supporting, understanding community it will likely end up doing just as much harm in the end.

So let’s go one step beyond and curtail the threats, immediate claims of first amendment violation. And that is where this argument wallows for all time. Everything comes back to the rights of an individual, or so it seems. Both sides start saying terrible things and the debate becomes a conflagration. It is up to the third party on the intolerant’s perceived side of the debate to correct that person. Yes, it is intolerance of a sort, but rather than the intolerance breeding more and more of itself, it is curtailed, one less perceived supporter.

Of course the medium bringing you this blog is probably partly to blame in the ease to which a person might find other people as intolerant as they are, with no way for us to quarantine a person and their brand of intolerance.

So what do we do? Well I have to confess that I have major issues with this thought. It’s not skin color or ethnicity that bother me, it’s beliefs. I will tolerate beliefs that I don’t hold, but it must be mutual. What I don’t want to do is support a advocacy group that is intolerant of other people’s beliefs. But then how can I hold these opposing thoughts? Am I contradicting myself? It would be nice to live in a nice insulated world, which I do in a way, and believe that I can get to know people I meet and respect them for who they are.

Am I going to support advocacy groups that have attacked Christians? If I flat out say “no” then how am I different than Martin Niemöller and his speech turned into poem “First they came…”? I still need to work it out, reflect, pray, and think about it. In the meantime I think it is absolutely imperative that we know what is going on from trusted sources, so I will definitely support NPR to continue reporting on as much as possible.

One major thing that I believe in and am supporting is Science. I might be looked down upon by some intolerant christians, but I believe that we really need strong science in order to understand our world and make it look more and more like the good parts of Star Trek, namely the abolition of material want.

Science is getting a bad rap from so many different groups that it pervades and distorts findings, but this is easier to do because of how many scientists have been corrupted by the need for “positive” findings in the science community. I did go on at length about this topic, but the main point here is that we need to support open and transparent science.

Go to Amazon Smile FAQs and consider listing the Center for Open Science as the beneficiary even if I don’t work for them anymore. Or become a member at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Or both!


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