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yadre

The Fallacy of "Tolerating Intolerance."

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I have, on numerous occasions, encountered the peculiar belief that being radically, and oftentimes confrontationally, in favor of social justice must by some bizarre necessity include a self-defeating tolerance for discrimination.

Very small-minded individuals will tell you, quite smugly, that you cannot be truly open-minded without tolerating their racism, sexism, creedism, heterosexism, or whatever sort of bias they are trying to justify. They think they've discovered some kind of "trick" that explains why you can't really be open-minded.

They are wrong.

It's a silly notion. I believe its mechanism relies on a fundamental misunderstanding of what it is to be in favor of social justice. Being inclusive does not imply a lack of discernment or values.

One example. When I cut ties with a former friend when it became increasingly obvious he was rather appallingly racist, he seemed to find the idea of not tolerating racism to be somehow self-defeating. He said I was being hypocritical for being so "tolerant" while not tolerating his racism.

This is a profound misunderstanding. He was seeing the effect of a positive value ("I do not tolerate racism.") This is not "tolerance." This is not some kind of vague, wishy-washy philosophy. It is a principle, and one I hold inviolable.

Is this making any sense?

My idea of open-mindedness doesn't just apply to the obvious stuff (racism, sexism, heterosexism, creedism, ableism, ageism, all the -isms). It also has a lot to do with not really caring what people do with their free time.

I've had friends tell me that video games are "stupid." I've had customers at work say the same thing (while buying video games for a child or significant other). I've heard arguments about all the "better" uses of one's free time.

I'm sorry, what? It's called free time for a reason. The only measure of whether something is a "good" use of it is whether you enjoy it or not.

There are a lot of things I don't enjoy. Knitting, extreme sports, reality television... and you know what? I do something else with my free time (reading, writing, the aforementioned video games)... who is anyone to tell me my use of my free time is "better" or "worse" than anyone else's? Who am I to make the same claim?

On FurAffinity, I've seen people go out of their way to journal about how a particular style of art or fetish is "dumb" and then systematically delete any comment in which the commenter said, basically, "So what?" I've seen similar comments on particular pieces of art on FurAffinity, InkBunny, DeviantArt.... Seriously, if you don't enjoy something, why go out of your way to attack it? There's actually nothing better or worse about your own tastes. They're just... your tastes. Find art or stories that you enjoy more. Honestly. It's not that hard. Why waste the effort?

Being open-minded, in my opinion, has a lot to do with, pardon the colloquialism, just chilling the fuck out about what other people do when it doesn't affect you.

So does being open-minded mean I have to not say anything when people campaign against my right to have my relationship legally recognized? That I have to say, "That's a-okay!" when someone is being unbelievably racist and it's making my skin crawl?

No. No, it really doesn't. In fact, there is nothing contradictory about trying to get other people to treat others with respect and maturity, or at least leave them the hell alone if they can't manage respect and maturity.
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Added: 7 years, 5 months ago
 
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