Thursday, August 3, 2006

Tolerating Intolerance

In one of the comments I have recieved since I added the commenting capability, someone accused me of misquoting Mr. Chesterton via the slogan of the KrashPAD which adorns the banner graphic. "Tolerance is the virtue of a man without conviction." And truthfully, fifty years ago, I would have seen that. Fifty years ago, tolerance still meant "a disposition to allow freedom of choice and behavior or a permissible difference."

Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Tolerance has shifted definitions in the wider context of our society, what Josh McDowal called "the new tolerance." If tolerance still meant putting up with someone or something in spite of the fact that I do not like or agree with the idea or person (which I am all for) then I would not dream of having that quote on my banner. Unfortunately, today tolerance now means that we not only have to put up with those ideals or people, but to actively embrace and celebrate the views and practices of others, and that we also value those views and practices that we don't agree with to the degree that we value our own. This is a statement and belief that I cannot, as a Christian, accept. There are some things, some ideas which are fundamentally against my religion.

And this also applies to some ideas and concepts in my political beliefs as well.

Voltaire stated, "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it." This is no longer an acceptable form of tolerance. Today, we cannot disagree with one another, and this has lead to the only thing which is not allowed to be tolerated is intolerance.

Of course where I have issues with a lot of this not tolerating intolerance, is that the intolerance label is applied to my beliefs almost exclusively. Pro-Lifers are called intolerant because they do not believe abortions should be legal, while abortionists do not have to tolerate the pro-life position. Creationists, and proponents of Intelligent Design are intolerant (as well as considered backwards and stupid) because they do not believe in the Theory of Evolution, while evolutionists are court-protected against having to defend their ideals while indoctrinating the minds of children. We must celebrate Islam within schools, but consider it intolerant if our children have a Christmas break.

It is this which lead Mr. Chesterton to make that statement, and as long as tolerance is defined as such, I proudly wear the badge of intolerance.

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