Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tolerance and Its Limits

A point was made to mean on my last post about tolerance and Fahrenheit 451. While I don’t agree with most that this person believes, I must address this issue.

When I started writing this blog, I never got around to defining what I meant by “tolerance”. I figured that ‘tolerance’ was a commonplace enough word that I did not need to define it for the purposes of this blog. I figured that intelligent people were well, intelligent enough to know what I meant.

However, a flaw was pointed out in this logic to me by a fellow-at-odds with my point of view. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the motive behind burning books was good and pure at heart. The purpose was to be completely Politically Correct. To not offend any person, party, or group was the goal of their burnings.

But in their goal to be ultra-tolerant, the people in the book forgot a few things.

First and Foremost amongst these forgotten things is that there are some things and groups that for which there can and should be no tolerance. Amongst these groups are child molesters, child abusers and rapists. For obvious reasons (and not-so-obvious ones that will be blogged about one day on this blog) these three groups as well as others immediately send out alarms of disgust and shock into most normal humans.

But things that people identify with, things like their age, religion, sex, race etc. These differences that a personal born with (and chooses as a personal preference for acceptable legal activities) are the sorts of things that are to be tolerated.

Behaviors that are illegal are illegal for one (or more than one) of three reasons. The first of these reasons is safety. This is the most common reason that an activity or act will be deemed illegal. It is for this reason that murder is illegal; to protect the rights of citizens against others. The second reason is proactivitiy against other illegal activities from taking place. A common example of this would be the banning of guns in public places. The third of these reasons would be basing them off of religious traditions.

The third reason is the stupidest reason in the world for a nation as diverse as the United States of America to base a law. I’m not talking about laws which might fight into all three categories or ones that fit into category three and another (No murder, being one of these examples). Not being allowed to have a shop open on Sunday (or on any other “Holy Day”) is forcing society into a set of dogmatically ordered rules of conduct that instruct people to do things that would in any other setting be called silly in a manner that (in any other context) is silly.

If one person or one group of people would like to do something (or not) do something (that is morally and legally correct) on a certain “Holy Day”, then bully for them. But when that person tries to force his or her beliefs on me or on a nation as a whole, they have crossed a lone.

I can think of very few things that intrude on me more and make me angrier than unsolicited proselytizing. Having an intelligent conversation about differing opinions on religion, politics, ethics or moralities if, of course, a different ball game. But when beliefs are being force-fed to me, I get angry, I get irate, and I get as intolerant as the sort of people who go around and force-feed their beliefs.

I suppose that I should wrap up this post soon. I’ve made my argument that certain groups are not deserving of tolerance and I’ve illustrated a situation in which (to me) a group that is normally tolerated loses that privilege. I would just like to add that the problem of figuring out tolerance’s limits for our society is not my problem alone. Nor is it the Environmentalists’, nor the clergies’, nor any one group. The problem belongs not to America, but to the world. This problem of intolerance and where it is appropriate is a world-wide problem that should be addressed in the near future. Also, tolerance cannot be had unless those in charge of our nation remember that democracy is not just about majority wins all. A democracy is about the majority looking out for the minorities’ rights. Otherwise it would just be two wolves and a lamb voting on what would be for dinner.

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

No comments: