Tolerance part #3 – very much a value statement

2012-06-10 tolerance 3

I was not planning to write this third part, but a few days after I posted the first, Ezra quoted someone on his show. Bernie Farber “ Human rights advocate”  who does not like the word ‘ tolerance

“ I never really liked the word “tolerance.” It suggests the bare minimum. Simply tolerating each other is far from accepting or, better yet, celebrating each other. In the end “tolerance” is not much of a value statement.”

He thinks “we have  to develop an acceptance and respect for those who are different from us, but also for those who hold different opinions.”

Let’s try to put a face to this. Does Bernie really want to celebrate genital mutilation? How about the Hamas charter that calls for the extermination of Jews? Now that is one difference for a Jew to celebrate. Well, we should at least give them the benefit of the doubt. Really? How stupid can this suicidal Jew get before it would be legitimate to call him stupid? According to Forest Gump, “stupid is what stupid does” (or, in this case, says.)
Shouldn’t the essence of criticism be more important than its form? If Bernie says something stupid, why shouldn’t we call it stupid? Civility is nice to have, but shouldn’t content matter more? Isn’t the call for civility the refuge of those who like Bernie, do not have much of anything to say? I believe in the value of straight talk. I take brutal honesty over shallow niceties any time. I aim for the honesty of Pat Condell and the insightful wit of Mark Steyn.

Passing a judgment is not a celebration of our differences. It is ranking the options. If we ‘celebrate the differences’ we equate them in value. We say that as far as their worth is concerned, they are not different. Then what do we celebrate? Curry vs chilli?
How can we “engage in vigorous, passionate civil discourse” if we are not supposed to vigorously and passionately disagree? If we are supposed to “celebrate our differences” and give our opponents the benefit of the doubt?

What does it mean anyway, giving someone or something “the  benefit of the doubt”? Isn’t that very phrase the essence of the assumption that something may go wrong? That we may have to condemn and oppose the outcome, but driven by our tolerance we allow for the possibility to be proven wrong?

I hope I do not need to get into more details explaining how shallow and contradictory his feel-good platitudes are.
Although most of the post is meaningless blabber, it is difficult not to sense a little veiled threat, especially considering Bernie’s career aspirations. What do you do, when you do ”not settle for mediocrity”? How do you “work towards true civility”? By being intolerant, of course. It is not that tolerance is not enough for Bernie Farber, it is too much for him.  

Tolerance is the expression of our faith in the strength of our values, the expression of the faith that our culture can withstand the disruptive influences of whatever we tolerate.

The difficult question then becomes how far can we tolerate the Bernie style PC intolerance? At what point does it pose a real threat to our core values of individual freedom and responsibility?  At what point do we have to stand up to say yes, tolerance is the ultimate value statement and if you don’t like what others say about you, learn to tolerate it. If you don’t want to be called stupid, don’t say stupid things and if you do, learn to live with the consequences or learn to ignore your critics.

Now the only question left is this: where are the skunks I can talk to?

 

One reply

  1. […] We have to be clear with the message that although we are tolerant of differences, WE WILL NOT TOLERATE INTOLERANCE. That we will not celebrate certain differences. […]

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