Why Tolerance doesn’t tolerate Intolerance

Ok, so a big theme in discussion around ideas considered Politically correct today is Tolerance. I want to dive into this idea a bit to help folks understand exactly what we are saying when we talk a bout Tolerance. If you are interested in a discussion of acceptance v. tolerance, that is a whole different conversation. This will be a bit more of a play on words. See, several people who are not typically happy with political correctness, which I prefer to call “being respectful” also seem to wonder why “Tolerant” people are not tolerant of Intolerant viewpoints.

Personally, I think it is simple enough to state that intolerance is an antonym of tolerance, just as bigotry, prejudice, and narrow-mindedness are. Of course, if that isn’t enough, let’s look at it a bit deeper. See, tolerance is not merely a tolerance of any idea different than your own. Tolerance goes deeper and focuses on a certain level of respect meant to aid each person in living their own life. The breakdown, however, seems to occur when people  want that tolerance listed as a view of life. Here is where that differs, in tolerance, we are discussing ideals of religion, sexual orientation, gender, etc. Not bigotry, hatred, and just plain rudeness. Intolerance stands in opposition to tolerance, so therefore tolerating intolerance is, in itself, intolerance and a failure to hold to ones beliefs. Tolerance also, typically, takes what I will refer to as a Robert’s Rules of Order Approach. See, Robert’s Rules of Order, also known as Parliamentary Procedure, are designed to allow the minority opinion to have a voice rather than simply being shut up and overrun by the majority viewpoint. This is far from a perfect analogy, but Tolerance operates in a similar way. People who “preach” tolerance focus on ensuring that the dominant position(those typically in the majority who hold the power) cannot shut others out of society, of feeling comfortable, and of being active in society. Some people view this as a weak position because they assume it means Tolerant people bend over to anything. The difference is that Tolerant people typically take a more diplomatic view and find educating themselves a far more appropriate course of action than one of buffeting others into silence either obviously or subtly.

Of course there is something else that tolerant individuals must keep in mind, the focus on ally-ship rather than overrunning. For example, as a White person, I can speak in support of Black people, but my voice should never overpower theirs. As a man, my voice should compliment the women, not overrun or even be given more weight. I am a supporter of these movements, not a leader. My Tolerance fits there.


About rigsurfer

A Brother of Delta Upsilon International Fraternity, Inc., Joined in Fall 2010. Completed a B.A. in English at North Carolina State University in 2013 and received a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration at Texas Tech University in 2015. Passionate about Leadership and Diversity as well as Ducks, Scooby Doo, and reading.
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