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QOTD: Tolerance

December 31, 2011

From Botgirl Questi, on G+:

The word “tolerance” bothered me until I realized what we are tolerating is our own discomfort about those we don’t understand.

Exactly. And it is a very low expectation to place on ourselves.

More on that later–having been wanting to write something about xenophobia, ideas about human nature, and the acceptable default positions those can lead to anyway–but I just had to share that quote.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. retrieverman permalink
    December 31, 2011 5:47 pm

    I am a tolerant person.

    However, I don’t tolerate racist, sexist, or homophobic comments or attitudes.

    Because if you start tolerating those views, you cease to be a progressive. You become all wishy washy.

    I am very defensive of Muslims living in the West. I think what people say about them is disgusting. I support the right of women of that faith to wear hijabs.

    I don’t, however, support sharia law, and I certainly don’t support the murders of Muslim women by their own fathers if they have proven “unpure.”

    Tolerant and enlightened values give Muslims religious liberty in the West.

    It doesn’t give them the right to create their own law.

    • urocyon permalink*
      December 31, 2011 6:47 pm

      Funny, I was tempted to throw in links to a few good posts related to this theme, including: I refuse to tolerate intolerance. (I like Sparky’s take on the whole theme of “tolerance” as an ultimate goal, anyway.)

      When people are getting hurt by someone else’s behavior, that is a totally different matter, indeed. Which should, pretty much by definition, not be tolerated. (And actually the main point of the “low expectations” post I threw in a link to.) IMO, that is a serious problem with the rather unbalanced “ostentatiously don’t judge” approach to dealing with other cultures. If somebody is getting hurt, I am not going to pretend that’s somehow fine and dandy because it’s “traditional”.

    • S^Amorpha permalink
      January 6, 2012 9:29 pm

      I’ve noticed that a lot of the time, when people start talking about tolerance of various people, cultures, practices, beliefs, etc, some people will assume they’re operating in this totally abstract mindset unconnected to actual reality. And that therefore if they don’t lay down very rigid restrictions on how far “tolerance” should extend, then it’s okay to assume that they just extrapolate this abstract ideal of “tolerance” to its most ridiculous extremes and criticize them for what they think this person supports or condones.

      Of course there are obviously things that are not okay and shouldn’t happen, whether or not someone justifies them as part of their culture or religion. I think almost everyone can agree on that. But generally when people talk about tolerance in this way, it’s a better idea to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re putting what are (to me) obvious common sense restrictions on it, like that it’s not okay to kill a woman even if someone claims it’s their cultural tradition. That some things should just go without saying.

      • urocyon permalink*
        January 9, 2012 8:54 pm

        Well said. And I am very, very wary of the combo of lumping and slippery slope fallacies that drives a lot of xenophobic ideas. Unfortunately, thinking here seems to turn very binary too. (Part of that perception may well be that extreme versions either way tend to stand out and prompt a WTF?! reaction.)

        Still, I do get exasperated with how often the line of “that’s just their culture” seems to get drawn somewhere that includes blatant physical abuse and/or killing, rather than at the place where the working definition of what gets translated as “honor” is something that only men have–whether or not somebody ends up getting beaten or killed because of the societal meme in question. Similar goes for things other than gender, but that example of differential respect stood out.

        Sorry, BTW, that I haven’t yet gotten around to replying to your last very thoughtful comment! There was so much going on there that I’m still not sure how to address everything that I wanted to. (Probably a lot of the reason why this blog doesn’t get so many comments, actually; radial and helical thinking FTW! 😉 )

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