“Tolerance” has become a big deal in our society, but what does the word actually mean? Well, I have written lots of posts on the subject (see a list of some of those posts at the bottom), but I have never written for this series. Since I have gained a new insight, now seems a good time for that post.

What is this new insight? Some people just want to get their own way, and they don’t like anyone who gets in their way. If they gave the matter any thought, such people would define “pragmatism” as getting their own way and destroying the opposition. This is seriously vicious and stupid, but let’s start off with the seriously funny part of it. Enjoy the video.

Am I going to try to explain the intolerance of the supposedly tolerant? No. Don’t read minds. I will just use illustrations.

Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg is a man who sounds, at least when compared to the rest of the Democratic presidential field, reasonable. He isn’t. He sounds like he is trying to stand for something, but his real campaign skill is making intolerance sound reasonable.

Here is a video of Buttigieg sounding reasonable.

Here are more articles demonstrating how Buttigieg attacks his opponents.

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)

What is the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)? The SPLC was famous for identifying “hate groups.” The problem is that they were not doing a very good job.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar

What’s our last example? Ilhan Omar speech about “some people did something.”

It is kind of interesting that progressive women of power, congresswomen of all people, expect to be taken seriously when they constantly attack others and then portray themselves as victims. The funniest thing about this whole hullabaloo is Democrats’ complaints about Omar receiving death threats. After all the nonsense Democrats have repeated about President Donald Trump and other Republicans, they are worried someone might receive death threats? Do they worry about that when they charge Trump with absurd crimes and compare him to Hitler?

By the way, the organization Congresswoman Omar was speaking about, CAIR, actually is associated with terrorists.

What does tolerance look like? Check out The Intolerance of Tolerance (str.org).

Previous posts on tolerance.


Add yours

  1. The etymology of the word in this discussion could expose some the real underlying confusion here. If you look up the definitions, “intolerance” is not purely the antonym of “tolerance”. The latter defines out as patience in withstanding something uncomfortable while the former basically has evolved to simply denote bigotry. This makes an important moral distinction depending upon which term one is using to describe himself or others.

    “Tolerance” in and of itself is morally neutral. The moral ramifications of tolerance are situational and depend upon what someone is actually tolerating. For example, if someone is standing by and just tolerating genocide, then I think most of us would see that sort of tolerance as immoral. On the other hand, if someone is tolerating great pain or hardship in sacrifice for others, I think most of us here would agree that that is perhaps the highest form of moral action of all.

    In contrast, if we say that someone is “intolerant” then, correctly or not, we’ve pretty much already deemed that that person’s words or actions amount to immoral bigotry. At that point, the name caller has already decided that further tolerance of the bigotry has reached the point where such further forbearance amounts to the immoral type of tolerance, or in other words, to a permissiveness of evil rather that a sacrifice for good.

    Obviously, this analysis of the semantics alone won’t convince anyone, but it might it could be illuminating of the problem. At what point is my toleration of something that I may find objectionable a moral sacrifice because the harmony that it brings is greater than the harm that my forbearance causes to the myself or others, including the person doing the thing that I find objectionable? Except in the most extreme harm, isn’t the morality really a difficult balance? Because I believe that love is the God given foundation of all morality, how does love fit into a weighing each question of the morality of tolerance in a given case? Or put another way, when is forbearance (if not acceptance) the greater loving act or omission and when is opposition the greater loving act or omission? When the harm is low and/or disputed, is it moral that we lean toward tolerance, or do we refuse to tolerate everything that we determine as evil on pure principle and without regard to actual harm?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @tsalmon

      I have too have observed the difference between tolerance and forbearance. The folks demanding tolerance know the difference too. In an earlier era sinners demanded forbearance of their vices. Latter generations insisted upon tolerances. This crooked generation demands affirmation of its sins.

      The mass media often operates in lockstep. Why? I spend much time scratching my head about that, but I suspect kids high school would have a more instinctive grasp of this behavior than I do. I have never understood how — had what folks call the social graces — to be popular, but I do understand that the folks in the mass media require this skill. “Forbearance” did not suit their agenda. “Tolerance” did.

      When we are talking about government action, there are distinctly difference consequences when the government insists upon intolerance, forbearance, tolerance and affirmation. To determine which is appropriate, we have to define individual rights. When government starts creating positive rights instead of just protecting our “negative,” God-given rights, we make things very complicated.

      The more government-given rights our government creates, the more we involve our government in what should be individual decisions of morality. Eventually, government demands the right to be our conscience and our god. Effectively we end up trading freedom of religion for government-given positive rights.


      1. I agree with your presentation of the societal problem. Many of the books that I’ve read in the recent years points the blame to this at the aggrandizing of a selfish form of individualism that sacrifices “finding oneself” and “being all that one can be” for your own sake rather than for some higher, more meaningful purpose. These authors agree that this glorification of the individual has infected every aspect society, including government, and because of it, we are losing the institutional trust, otherwise known as social capital, that even capitalism requires so that it does not degrade into chaos.

        This leads to a constant expectation of tolerance (or “forbearance”) and even, as you say, the “acceptance”, of all sorts of selfishness. But the tolerance itself isn’t necessarily the root problem.

        As I said tolerance, in and of itself is morally neutral. Rather it is the selfishness and the lack of unselfishness that are at the heart of the problem.

        I think it’s good to remember too that, although tolerance may not inherently be moral or immoral, “patience” is a indeed a moral virtue. And as with all virtues, patience is a virtue because it manifests love.

        I’m sure that you have heard the characterization of some certain person that “he doesn’t suffer fools well”. It sounds admirable, but I have had some high energy, otherwise industrious and well meaning friends who’s greatest foolishness was that they didn’t suffer well a little foolishness in others. They often breed unnecessary resentment that makes them insufferable to others. They did not have to applaud anyone’s foolishness, but they would have been more successful in getting people to do what they wanted if they had only suffered everyone’s small foibles with a better attitude.

        I recently read someone describe marriage as an institution that voluntarily assigns oneself to a lifetime of almost continuous surveillance by someone else. As such, I know that my wife must love me because she’s been suffering a good deal of my foolishness up close and personal for going on 40 years, and for some strange reason still continues to do so. Now there’s a high level of selfless patience that we could all learn from.


        1. @tsalmon

          Some people do seem to think it is government’s job to control selfish individualism. To some extent that is true. We do have to lock up bankrobbers and murderers. Most of the problem with selfishness, however, is taken care of by the fact that nobody wants to be around people who love only themselves.

          What enforced acceptance by the government does is eliminate the possibility of voluntary ostracism. That is, only government is allowed to discriminate. Since the motives of politicians often have more to do with political calculations than morality, we are usually better off leaving most moral decisions related to discrimination to the individual.

          Can you imagine Uncle Sam telling you and your lady how you MUST resolve all your marital disputes?


          1. “Can you imagine Uncle Sam telling you and your lady how you MUST resolve all your marital disputes?”

            Funny you should say that because, for most of human history, even in this country, government pretty much did. Most people don’t realize what a new thing “no fault divorce” is. Which do you think historically will be seen to have had a more dramatic effect on traditional marriage, the legalization of same sex marriage or the legalization of quick and easy no fault divorce? I tend to think the latter, but in either case, it seems to me that our democratic government isn’t so much imposing it’s will on it’s citizens as, for good or for bad, mostly giving most of us what our selfish hearts’ desire. I think we give government way too much credit and let ourselves way too much off the hook if we either blame every social ill on government or expect government to solve every social ill.

            Rather than scapegoating government or the media or corporations or Democrats or Republicans or Trump or Obama, maybe we should, individually and as a society, just take a good hard look in the mirror. It seems to me that that is where the real hard changes will have to happen. If moral progress does happen in ourselves first, all the rest, including government, will inexorably follow. If it doesn’t happen in each and all of us, all the rest of it, including government, will degrade too.
            Until we figure this out, then it seems to me that both sides of this debate are just projecting their own shadows everywhere else but where the darkness really belongs, But that’s what we do when we don’t want to face our own sins, now isn’t it? Wouldn’t you say that that pride is as old as Adam and Eve, as Cain and Abel?


          2. Which do you think historically will be seen to have had a more dramatic effect on traditional marriage


            Specifically, as put forward with LBJ’s “Great Society.”

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle (@DeHavelle)

            Liked by 1 person

          3. @tsalmon

            As Keith observed, there are other issues, like welfare.

            So are you correct when you observe it is an issue of the heart? I think so. I think that government works best when we do the right thing without being forced to do so.

            When do we do the right thing? That’s when we have sufficient knowledge and wisdom.

            We acquire knowledge and wisdom via education and experience. Since politicians cannot be trusted, it is foolish to put them in charge of educating us. I think it is also accurate to observe that a secular education system can only impart knowledge, not true wisdom. The wisdom of God far exceeds our own.


          4. “government works best when we do the right thing without being forced to do so”

            Sound like a great bumper sticker – make one up and I’ll stick it on my trade marked Ford Pickup with the patented eco boost turbo charged engine that has more power and uses less of that gas that comes from leased government land, and that away I can virtue signal my rugged. individualism to everyone when I drive the public roads and stop at the public stop lights on my way out to the Air Force Base where I get my medical care.😎


          5. @tsalmon

            Try this on for size.

            When the only thing we care about is getting what we want at someone else’s expense, government works best because government forces us to do the right thing.

            Isn’t that’s the sort of government dreamed of by Liberal Democrat politicians?


    2. This is a nice exposition, and I generally agree with it.

      From an American free speech perspective, the tolerance should be large. Short of incitement to violence, speech that you don’t like must still be permitted.

      The intent of my own comment above was to show that Leftists use yet another definition for “tolerance,” with throws the dictionary definition you capably described right out of the window.

      Speech they don’t like, even the presence of persons they think represent such speech, is “violence” in their eyes. Thus, they feel justified in using real violence against such speakers. This dangerous trend is a serious threat to America.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle (@DeHavelle)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tolerance goes both ways. Do we really need to get into a debate over which “side” contains the more “violent”?
        Last I heard.. both sides were human… in spite of all the bravado, arrogance, and self-appointed patriotism.


        1. Indeed, both sides are comprised of humans. The leftists among them are armed with baseball bats, bike locks, masks, and (pace Citizen Tom) an utter lack of tolerance for any free speech or free expression they happen not to like.

          Equipped with their tools and their hostility, they consider even an expression of support of America or its president to be the veriest violence, and they respond in the manner they feel appropriate.

          Conservatives simply don’t do that. We don’t put people in the hospital for expression support for leftist notions.

          As you said, there is no debate needed.

          But what can be offered as a solution?

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle (@DeHavelle)


          1. We can ignore the recent line of mass shootings being done by those favoring Right wing politics.. even as recent today some nutjob was arrested for threatening three elected officials. Yeah.. ok.. you’re likely going to bring up Antifa.. and to listen to those tales one would think they were more successful than ISIS has been.
            Look.. Trump Conservatism preys upon fear to stimulate the base.. and fear can bring out violent tendencies, no question. I have no answer.. you have no answer. Very likely this is going to have to run its course and I have no idea how long that run will be. None of this is about free speech, Second Amendment, Immigration, abortion… it’s about the re-defining of the soul of America… and is entirely about fear. None of this is really about the tolerance everyone in here has been jabbering about lately. Trump DID manage to build his wall.. smack dab in between America. He’s going to have to deal with all the post-Mueller politics and he will see himself cause his own end. The rest of us have to start dealing with each other. We aren’t there yet.


          2. @Doug

            Wherever something bad happens, the Crazy News Network (CNN and the like) immediately blames it on Trump and Conservatives. Like it or not, Trump has been thoroughly investigated. Nothing found. All you have is whatever muck you can glean from the Mueller Report, a document written by Liberal Democrats. Like it or not, Conservatives advocate Classical Liberalism. We strive to protect everyone’s rights, including the rights of our opponents. We don’t promote mass shootings. We also don’t promote “free love” and infanticide.

            On the other hand, tsalmon just advocated “private censorship” against Hitler-like politicians. Think of the irony. Hitler was a Socialist. He wanted big government. Hitler’s brownshirts exercised “private censorship.” That’s Antifa! That’s Democrats paying people to disrupt Trump’s rallies.

            Where does “private censorship” lead? The end justifies the means. First we demonize opponent. Then, because we haved convinced ourselves our opponent is evil, we can selfrighteously abuse the powers of the IRS, the FBI, the CIA, and so forth. It is all for the good of the country, which is too stupid to realize what we are doing to save it.


          3. “Like it or not, Trump has been thoroughly investigated. Nothing found.”

            ??? What Report did you read that determined that? Barr is an idiot.. and works for Trump and he absolutely knows not what he says. But he did say the things Trumpsters wanted to hear… based on his own conclusions. Mueller deferred carrying his findings further to Congress given he couldn’t indict a sitting President… stating himself that Congress can determine how to handle the corruption and abuse of power.. after documenting 10 instances of obstruction. BTW.. Mueller is Republican. But.. see, you know all that… and simply choose otherwise. All this was expected.. the Mueller Report falls along party lines on how much you choose to believe it.
            There’s another Republican running against Trump. I would willingly vote for him.


          4. @Doug

            A prosecutor’s job is to investigate a crime. Shortly after his appointment Mueller should have known there was no evidence Trump had conspired with the Russians. If he did not think his purview included investigating what the Clinton campaign had done, he should have declared his investigation complete.

            When the DOJ issued indictments against certain Russians actors, Rosenstein announced there was no evidence Americans had conspired with the Russians. In addition, Rosenstein declared that what the Russians had done had not effected the election. So why didn’t Mueller quit then?

            So what is the Mueller Report? Opposition research for the Democratic Party paid for by American taxpayers? It would seem so. When ethical prosecutors don’t have evidence of a crime, they have nothing to report. It is not their job to dig up dirt and trash people. That’s muckraking.


          5. You continue with that thought, Tom.. it follows the fear Trump keeps tossing at you that he will fix everything that you are afraid of. In the meantime, the snowball is rolling and not melting. It may down the line.. but not before making a splat on Trump. One thing of which I have NO fear… Trump will do himself in as he has caused all this himself.


          6. @Doug

            😕Trump is peddling fear. He is “peddling” MAGA.

            Meanwhile, what are the people you listen to selling?
            1. Trump is Hitler.
            2. Republicans and Conservatives in particular are white supremacists.
            3. Global warming.
            4. Capitalists are selfish monsters.

            At the same time these clowns demand the right to tax and spend and spend and spend…. The national debt is absurdly high. We cannot keep this up.

            Seriously, when Democrats and the national news media tries to demonize high school boys and pretend the government can spend all it wants, isn’t time to stop taking that crowd seriously? Why do you want to share such delusions?


      2. So nice to see you here again Kieth. I agree with what you say about free speech with a couple of caveats.

        1. As you know, constitutional free speech ONLY protects speech from government limitation, not private limitation, and even then the governmental ban is not unlimited.

        2. Because the word “tolerance” causes confusion, I will just say that the most virtuous thing to do is to be patient with speech that we disagree with. For the most part we should let all speech compete in the marketplace of ideas. However, as in most things, there are limits. Rather than constantly hearing him out, wouldn’t it have been more virtuous if people would have shown up at Hitler’s rallies to jeer him, ostracize him and shout him down? When white supremacists show up at a rally to spew their hatred, don’t orhers have a right, even a duty, to show up to peacefully oppose them?

        These are tough questions. However, there is a line where patient tolerance becomes immoral appeasement. The hard part is figuring out where that line is.


        1. @tsalmon
          “Private limitation” done by violence is not supposed to be allowed. But there is a constant drum-beat of violent attacks on conservatives.

          And colleges are (almost entirely) not “private.” They take federal funding, which the US Supreme Court has held means that they must obey Constitutional rules. And yet, they are the institutional bastions of free speech limitation.

          I specifically pointed out how the Left defines “tolerance” as being quite relevant to the discussion.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle (@DeHavelle)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Let’s try this Mr. Keith… why do you think there IS a constant drumbeat amongst the Left toward Conservatism? (No.. it has nothing to do sour grapes with Hillary not winning.) Because until we can understand where each side is coming from we certainly are not even going to get close to ending this.


          1. “On the other hand, tsalmon just advocated “private censorship” against Hitler-like politicians.”

            Not exactly. I simply pointed out the fact that the constitutional protections of speech are against “government” infringement. For example, a private employer may fire its employee for racist, homophobic or sexually harassing speech.

            Second, I said that there is no inherent right, legal or otherwise, to say anything one wants to in public without someone heckling you, booing you, shouting you down or otherwise ostracizing you, as long as the opposing speech is nonviolent and does not violate some other law. It might be rude not to let the other person have their say or it might be highly proper, even courageous, to speak out and show one’s outrage and disdain for certain kinds of speech, depending upon the situation. And I gave the hypothetical example of someone who might have been brave enough to boo Hitler down.

            I think that you may be conflating the constitutional right to speech with some absolute right. There is no such thing as an absolute right to speech, and even the constitutional protection against. government infringement has limits. This isn’t a partisan issue – it’s just the facts. One can believe all sorts of nonsense about their supposed rights and responsibilities regarding speech and be in either political camp.


          2. @tsalmon

            Going to one of the other side rallies just to be disruptive is just asking for trouble. There is nothing especially brave about it.

            If the other side isn’t violent, trying to disrupt the other side is at best rude. If the other side is violent, it is stupid.

            What matters is what we are for, not what we are against. We best defeat the other side by promoting our own cause, not by destroying the other side.

            When do politicians have the greatest tendency to focus on what is wrong with the other side? That is when they don’t have a cause worth promoting.


          3. The Sturmabteilung (aka brownshirts) played a role in Hitler’s ascension to power in very much the way you describe…intimidation tactics and assembly/rally/meeting disruption.
            Note that masses of protestors are not showing up at Rachel Madcow’s home to intimidate her and her family. Nor are masses of conservatives storming lawful (city ordinance obtained) scheduled liberal rallies with clubs.

            Liked by 1 person

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