I am not alive to be tolerated by anyone. Let those whom find my existence to be intolerable be filled with shame for their bigotry. And let those whom find my views intolerable stand up and bring forth their case against me.
I would rather be hated but seen as an equal, than to be tolerated and seen as an inferior.
I do not engage in cultural relativism. Leave it to those with a great feeling of self-hate to dilute their own intellectual honesty about what is good and what is wrong.
But if we are to discuss tolerance. In an academic manner, and not the everyday meaning I just talked about, then what is it? What does it entail, and by what is it limited?
The final words on this issue are written by Karl Popper in his famous argument on the paradox of tolerance:
Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.
I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols.
We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.
This post is part of a series which I call an ‘autobiographical book of ideas’. In more colloquial terms it means that I am writing and/or finding texts on all sorts of topics which I will compile at the end of the year to form somewhat of a book that represents my opinions and views at this point in my life. I hope you enjoy the journey 🙂