Tolerance?

So I got into a little verbal kerfuffle today. Well, it wasn’t even a kerfuffle; I just got emotional while arguing when I should have had a light touch (which suggests mastery and the right motivations). It made me question the value of “tolerance”, and whether it’s a worthwhile value to hold, along with what it means.

So Canada is a tolerant country so it seems. We tolerate diversity here, and many go even further than tolerating to accepting and valuing. So I’ve always seen tolerance as the bare minimum form of accepting: if I tolerate your actions, it means I am one step away from throwing you out. The idea is that the more diversity we have, the more beautiful our country, something like that. The Liberal propaganda wing doesn’t really elaborate on why Diversity is Our Strength, Not Our Weakness (or maybe I just don’t listen well enough.

For example, let’s say you and I live in a house. And you happen to have a BDSM fetish which involves you stripped naked, bound in leather with your hands and legs tide behind you, and left on the cold floor. The only way you can orgasm is by rolling a peeled, boiled egg in front of you. Okay, so this is very, veryvery weird. Then lets suppose that I am a fundamentalist Christian and I see sex as this gift from God that I don’t even understand that much at all anyways. So obviously, our beliefs about sex are drastically different. And to a great extent, what you do in your bedroom drives me insane, knowing what’s going on in there! In this case, tolerance is shutting up and letting you do your thing, as long as you don’t disturb me.

If I raise an objection to what you’re doing in your room, it’s only because it negatively impacts me: perhaps the egg rolling on the floor carries and it sounds really annoying. Then I would go and tell you to stop being so loud. But it’s not that I am doing it because I hate your weird kink. I’m doing it because there’s noise and it’s annoying me. Because if I hated your weird kink, I’d go into your room and tell you to stop. But that would be intolerant. Anyways. (This is a really good idea for a discrimination argument with inequality and equality).

Trinity Western University is a Christian University in BC that opened up a law school. To be a lawyer, you have to be Called to The Bar in a province. Symbolically, this means that all of the old lawyers in a province get together and say “Hey citizens of my province! This person is fit to practice law in this province, so you can trust him with your trust fund money and stuff.” So when TWU law graduates went to try and be admitted to Ontario’s bar, they were rejected. In fact, the bar didn’t just reject the candidates, they rejected the school! The reason for this is because to be a part of TWU, you have to sign a community covenant, one line of which makes you pledge that you will only have sex within marriage, and that marriage is between a man and a woman. So obviously, this was too much for the snowflakes at the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario’s legal association), and so they decided on a vote of 28 – 22 (or something like that) to reject Trinity Western University.

So someone sued someone else, and it eventually found its way to the Supreme Court of Canada. They ruled that TWU was wrong, and I was making the claim that this was problematic. Nevermind the fact the Law Society can’t actually do what they were trying to do (since they’re supposed to judge individual lawyers, not law schools), I was talking with a fellow swimmer at swimming today about this case. I relayed to her the facts of the case, and then she told me that the Supreme Court was right to ban the school because they’re intolerant. And here’s where I got upset (more like afraid, because you never know what the other person will turn into). But not overwhelmingly upset, just enough to stop listening to what the other person was saying and flip their argument on them. So that’s what I’d like to do below.

She claimed that TWU was being intolerant. But I should have claimed that she was being intolerant of TWU. Then I thought about what the parameters for intolerance should be, and my opinion previously was that tolerance should be tolerant of all except intolerance. So for example, as a Canadian who values his state, you should should be intolerant of people/ideas/religions that threaten the integrity of the state’s liberal beliefs. For example, radical Islam should not be tolerated in Canada because they don’t tolerate the things that I think should be (at the very least) tolerated: same sex marriage, same sex existence, same sex love, free speech, freedom of the press, a right to life, etc.

But then I realized that my “tolerate everything but intolerance” idea had a flaw! You can change the parameters of intolerance to fit whatever a priori wishes you already had. No wonder it was such a catchy quote: everyone who read it would automatically agree with it because it confirmed their pre-existing beliefs. For me it would have been being intolerant of radical islam and other similar radical beliefs. For the woman I spoke with today, it would have been Trinity Western’s beliefs. So what’s the solution to this?

There are two: one is to be truly tolerant and let everyone be, and don’t discriminate between cases; the other is to dismiss tolerance as a vacuous value. I think I’ll go with the latter. Tolerance is just another buzzword like “open borders”, and “build a wall” that simply represent the absence of thinking within a person. Everyone discriminates, and everyone values people differently, so I think if they try their best to repress that then what happens is not very good.

Published by efernandes

I blog now.

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