Its possible, I hope at least, to have a discussion with point and counter point without the need to become enemies.
How many times has someone silenced you with a simple offhanded reiteration of 'That wasn't very tolerant'?
Strange how tolerance sometimes becomes the byword of intolerance: namely censoring opposing positions without any due consideration.
Now not everyone uses 'tolerance' in this way. We all grew up learning tolerance was a good thing and that people should be accepted just the way they are. Its a good thing, definitionally, that you seek to act in a moral and friendly fashion and encourage that behavior in others by calling their attention to speaking out in anger or being unjust to others.
'Everyone is entitled to their opinions' is taken at face value as undeniable fact, yes? Of course. We're all well bred people who wouldn't dream of imposing ourselves on others.
Or would we?
This 'tolerance' and 'equality of opinion' stops dead in the mind of many for people who think certain ways considered beyond social acceptance. The prime example is always racism, which is considered an unforgivable sin even if its thought about.
The exact nature of racism is another subject, but its interesting to me that the same person who claims to allow total freedom of thought and believes all opinions are equal...will silence, denounce, and rebuke anyone whom they consider a racist without even considering the other's views.
This is why, if I can help it, I rarely ever even use the word 'opinion' because its so often a byword for an opposing position you want to belittle and ignore. Position is a better more solid word to me.
If someone thinks it through, they have a position NOT simply an opinion. For instance if you dislike the Iranian government because of well considered socio-political factors and moral beliefs, you don't simply have an 'opinion' about Iranian government.
If you like chocolate ice cream and say you dislike it but can't say or won't explore why THAT is an opinion.
There should be a difference made, otherwise you are damning a person's thoughts under the guise of tolerance.
Consider the 'racist' example. Is anger against racist language (to choose an example) an opinion? In a purely pragmatic perspective saying a racial slur does no physical personal or property damage and silencing a person based on speaking in a certain way could be extrapolated to any number of tyrannous options. Imagine if it was just as faux pas to say anything against the president no matter what he said.
By these arguments, being intolerant of racist language is censorship because of your own opinions. You don't like something for purely personal reasons so you try to make it stop.
But being against racism ISN'T usually considered an opinion, is it? Its almost considered a duty.
See why I'm angered by the hypocrisy of calling all opinions equal, while behind the scenes creating a list of whom to be intolerant to using the mask of accepting all opinions.
This is not an argument in favor of racism however, its an argument for racism to be heard IN THE CONTEXT of complete and utter tolerance. If you claim to be open to all beliefs that should mean ALL beliefs.
This distinction (like the difference between positions and opinions) should be made. You can argue in favor of painting the world teal without actually believing you should do it. You might even argue against doing it if you were in favor.
The final freedom however should be (if we're going by tolerance as a good thing) THE RIGHT TO SPEAK THE MIND.
But too often tolerance is specific, thereby in and of itself (ironically) intolerant.
If I type the word 'nigger' say, am I villainous and cruel and evil simply because I configured this word together on my computer? No. Am I a secret racist? Not to my knowledge. Do I mean harm, emotional or otherwise to people who might take offense at this word? Far from it.
But some argue I shouldn't be able to mention, write, or reference this word.
You can go on and on about connotations, but in the end at least textually the word 'nigger' is a word. It doesn't even have much context in this day and age because we no longer have plantations or anyone with living memory of being a slave. The word can be used as a weapon and emotionally harmfully, but should that make EVERY instant of it considered close to unspeakable profanity?
Its like Voldemort. Fear of the name makes fear of the thing itself.
We've all gotten over our fear of profanity (its crude but far less shocking then in the past) so what makes certain things break the mold for us to be allowed to be intolerant towards?
How many boogeymen do we have an not even know it?
Now politeness does dictate decorum. There are rules of social behavior for maximum comfort and amiability. Sometimes its a sacrifice and a just one not to speak your mind to avoid hurting the feelings of others.
But this doesn't mean every time you come into contention you should feel sinful for making a counterpoint.
I prefer things in moderation and consideration. I'll take tacks I don't believe in to see if they measure up to current criteria and likewise question my own beliefs if they are not in line with my understanding.
This doesn't make me special. Everyone has the capacity to think outside the box we've built for ourselves out of political correctness.
Tolerance should perhaps be...tolerant?
I don't feel this is beyond the realm of possibility.
Or do I have the right to think that?