Curtis Dahlgren
January 29, 2015
The Trouble with Tolerance: Myopia on the way to Utopia (the whole 9 yards)
By Curtis Dahlgren

"The absurdity of reality is worse than fiction because it doesn't have to stick to the limits of plausibility." – author unknown

WHERE DOES ONE START? I could start with an unlikely article I stumbled upon in The Humanist magazine – almost 15 years ago! With apologies to the author, here's a condensed version of what the author, J. Eric Hazell (English and history professor, U. of Maryland – College Park), was essentially saying:

"THE TROUBLE WITH TOLERANCE." Few values, if any, have more widespread acceptance today than tolerance. Those who most frequently and strongly advocate tolerance usually do so based on the idea that truth is relative. The tolerant view says that if you find homosexuality unappealing then don't practice it, but don't [discourage] others for being homosexual [etc, etc]. At first glance these arguments are appealing – so apparently respectful of others.

[BUT] might there be a few problems in this outlook? It seems to tell people how they can and cannot act. For example, by saying one can disagree with abortion but cannot stop others from having one. This circumscription of behavior can be especially problematic in the case of evangelical Christianity.

Secular defenders of tolerance say, fine, believe in Jesus but don't try to 'impose' your belief on me. But if you take the proselytizing out of evangelicalism, what exactly are you tolerating? Not much. In addition to telling people how to act, the ethos of tolerance also tells people what they should and shouldn't think.

First, you should think your truth is relevant to you but not necessarily to someone else. Second, you [think] that no single group of standards is valid for everyone. Third, you [should think] it is inappropriate to try to pressure someone else to think like you do.

Supposedly principles of relativism, they are all absolute, all pertinent everywhere at all times. In other words, they exemplify the very thing they refute. In this world view there are clear ideas of right and wrong; but calling them right and wrong contradicts the relativistic notions that supposedly govern thought and action. As a result, the issue is side-stepped; rather than saying I'm right and you're wrong, I have to say I'm tolerant and you're intolerant.

Tolerance then, as praised and practiced by those who preach it most, is often a mask for aggression – an attempt to impose a fairly specific world view on society.

Tolerance or the lack of it is not the crux of the matter. The real question is what to tolerate. It is remarkable how tolerant a fundamentalist, or just about anyone else for that matter, can become if his or her own opinion is offered a little respect in the first place. In the end, perhaps tolerance is much more valuable and effective when judiciously applied and when [actually] practiced instead of just "preached."

[end of excerpts from Prof. Hazell]

CONCLUSION: Myopia on the way to Utopia

Many quarrels – and even wars – grow out of a simple matter of emphasis. And/or envy (the failure to see the Big Picture). For example, the Left accuses the Tea party of being wild-eyed extreme. However, you must "tolerate" the Left and its life-style, OR ELSE! Marquette University changed its symbol from "Warriors" so as not to take a chance on "offending" someone; but when professors attack the Christian faith or beliefs, that's "academic freedom"! So you'd better not be "offended" – OR ELSE! "Just shut up!"

P.S.
Bless his heart, but the Potus went from his SOTU ("No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change . . Fourteen of the hottest years have been in the last fifteen years") to promoting U.S. motion pictures in India [those never "offend" anyone], to declaring the Wilderness of Sinai an International Forest, off-limits to loggers forever. I made up that last part. But even worse, he is in effect making the state of Alaska a defacto no-go zone (to honor the King of Saudi Arabia, who tried so hard to cripple American wildcatters in the oil business?).

I think it's about his Legacy. He probably wants the name ANWR to be changed to honor himself: the "Wilderness of Obama, Off-limit Forever." Big WOOOF. He's about to make the richest 12.8 million acres of the USA virtually worthless! He never goes there to visit, does he?

AHEM: The hottest 14 years were NOT in the 21st century! The hottest decade was the 1930s. Climate change enthusiasts themselves admit that "warming" has been on Pause for about 16 or 17 years. While they're out trying to explain the "Pause," da Prez goes on TV and makes outlandish statements that, he knows, his supporters won't check out factually. This is one reason why we say:

"The absurdity of reality is worse than fiction because it doesn't have to stick to the limits of plausibility."

That's funny. In a sad sort of way: Liberals are the ones preaching Fire and Brimstone, but the "church" is more mellow and upbeat these days.

PPS: As for the other game this week, the Super Bowl, I have a suggestion or two. In a sane world, every time the Patriots commit a 5-yard penalty the refs would give them a 9-yard penalty ("the whole 9 yards"). What more could be fairer? [To paraphrase a famous Madison columnist of olden times]

I think the bloom is off the rose in Boston (with or without the snow). The air is out of their balloons. No pun intended.

© Curtis Dahlgren

 

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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)

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