Does 'tolerance' extend to keeping one's yap shut?

This was partly inspired by a post by Updike in this Pit thread in which he accuses the SF Board of Supervisors of hypocrisy for simultaneously proclaiming their city’s “tolerant” reputation and condemning an event sponsored by a Christian youth organization for the organization’s anti-gay and anti-abortion stances.

Note that the Supervisors did not actually do anything to prevent the gathering - they just made a public statement of disapproval.

Updike’s point is presumably that this statement was evidence of intolerance on the part of the Supervisors.

Later on in the thread, I disagreed, in somewhat harsher terms than I intend to here.

Anyway, I’ve seen the alleged point raised before, in this and other forums, that publicly disagreeing with ideas that one, uh, disagrees with is a sign of intolerance. Mostly, I hear this from the right-wing, anti-homo crowd, but I occasionally hear it from progressives, too.

Pulling out my broad brush, I guess the former tend to see it as some kind of rhetorical “gotcha” - meaning that they feel rather clever for finding a way to expose the alleged hypocrisy of their idealogical opponents, who are known for promoting “tolerance,” whatever than means. The latter tend to do it out of their sincere belief that in order to protect vulnerable groups, one must, among other things, keep their feelings from being hurt. So in the stereotypical progressive world view, a Christian group that makes public statements to indicate their disapproval of homosexuality, without working to do anything that causes any tangible harm to gay people, is intolerant, ipso facto.

I disagree with both notions. Nice little neo-Nazis who go to their meeting and seig heil or whatever, but are perfectly kind and polite to the Jews, Black people, etc that they meet in their day-to-day lives, are not intolerant. Neither is the Green city councilmember who makes a statement to the effect that he wishes Falwell, Robertson, et al would just shut the hell up already.

I realize that “what if you’re so intolerant of intolerance that you become intolerant yourself, ma-aaan?” is one those way out ideas that we used to sit around the dorms and talk about while baked out of our gourds, but can we draw a line someplace?


PS: I dunno if it’s okey dokey to bring Pit concepts to GD; I thought the ideas behind the discussion in question were interesting enough to merit a more respectful debate. If I screwed up, I’m sorry.

The thing about the word tolerance is that it pretty much only applies to concepts or actions you disagree with. I don’t “tolerate” chocolate, I fully approve and support chocolate. I also don’t “tolerate” mass-murders. I think they should be locked up so they don’t go around mass-murdering people. I do, however, tolerate homophobes. I don’t agree with them, or particularly like them, but they’re free to speak their mind and push their agenda, just like I am.

As long as the discussion focuses on the discussion and does not get sidetracked with personal attacks, I’m quite tolerant of nearly any discussion, regardless where it originated.

My take is that it’s inherently intolerant to condemn a group of people based on their religious beliefs. Apparently, your mileage does vary.

What do you think “tolerance” means, precisely? You don’t seem to be using any definition of the word I’ve ever encountered.

Basically, live and let live. I’ll believe in what I want, you believe (or don’t believe) in what you want, and leave it at that.

Why is a local government issuing condemnations of a group of people on account of their religious beliefs? Sounds dangerously close to the Taliban, IMO. Ask Mr. Rahman about that.

Tolerance - n

  1. Agreeing with your viewpoints about who deserves to be treated nicely
  2. What other people should do

But seriously…it is one of those words that has little intristic meaning (like conservative/liberal, War on Terrorism, sensitivity, and so on) that is thrown about a lot with highly variable meanings.

Where I sit, tolerance not only makes room for extreme bias, disapproval, even hate, but those are necessary conditions for the idea to have the opportunity to kick in. Unless there are strong negative feelings toward whatever the issue or group might be, there’s no need for someone to have the discipline to acknowledge that his views do not give him the right to impose his views on others.

In the link provided I think the SF BofS did not exhibit tolerance. Their actions show that they do not want Christians “provoking” others by advertising their beliefs. They want to shut them up, which is intolerant. Now if this was done by an individual, I would have much less of a problem with it, but they were seekiong to use the weight of their office to quash religious beliefs they don’t happen to believe in.

It would be surprising that a Bof S would do such a thing, but not here in SF.

Okay, and how are the San Francisco city council violating that credo? They aren’t preventing this youth group from exercising their beliefs, proclaiming them in public, or recruiting other people into their belief system. They just said they don’t agree with what the other group believes in. Does being tolerant, to you, mean that one cannot disagree with anything?

Oh, I guess I missed the part where the San Francisco city council condemned participants in the youth rally to death. Because otherwise, your comparison would be really stupid.

What possible justification is there for the government to condemn religious beliefs? I think “Separation of Church and State” would cover that.

Lets turn it around. Would it be tolerant if a city somewhere like Utah condemned a gay rally because they disagreed with them while keeping quiet about the Christain rally that called them names and say they are going to hell so they need to go away? I think not.

But did they do that? Did they stop the concert from happening? I had thought at first that they did, which is why I said it was wrong, but apparently the concert went on as planned. The city “passed a resolution condemning the actions of an anti-gay, anti-choice group.” So in other words “We’re on record as really not liking what you stand for, but go ahead and do your thing.” They tolerated it. Tolerance of a person does not mean you like or agree with that person. Just that you allow them to say and do whatever they want. You can celebrate your beliefs. Just don’t expect everyone to share those beliefs.

The justification, I think, comes at the point in which religious beliefs begin to infringe on social policy. The council didn’t criticize them for believing that Christ was God’s son. The criticized them for their stances on abortion and gay rights, both of which subjects are under the legitimate perview of government. The fact that this group forms their opinions on these issues from religious grounds does not make them immune to criticism for holding those opinions.

If I’m parsing your sentence correctly, I’d say that would be tolerant, so long as the council didn’t try to prevent the gay rights rally from being held. They’d still be assholes, naturally, but that’s not the same thing as being intolerant.

If they still allowed both rallies to happen?

Again, I think the Supes made more of this than needed to be. San Francisco has welcomed just about every group you’d care to name, so long as they spent their cash. Condemning an entire city just because a majority of the board overreacted is an overreaction as well.

Criticism, yes. Government condemnation, no.

So, how did this “condemnation” infringe on their constitutional rights?
Were they stopped from expressing thier views? No.
Were they stopped from assembling? No.
Were the local businesses instructed to turn them away and not serve them (because of their religious beliefs or otherwise)? No.
Stop them from getting jobs? Getting housing? Marrying? Going to church? No?

The local board of supervisors went on record as saying that the group holds views that are counter to views accepted and promoted in the city.

Sounds to me like Updike is being intolerant of the SF Board of Supervisors by not accepting their intolerance of the Christian youth organization’s intolerance of gays. And I guess I’m being intolerant of Updike.

Where the fuck does this shit stop? Criticising the intolerance of somebody or some group is not being intolerant, and calling it intolerance is just a seedy debate tactic.

Do what? Yes, there actions wwere’are intended to quash such behavior from the public forum. And as I said, if it were a private individual (or organization) that made such statement, more power to them.

A distinction without a difference when the matter is one of a non-binding resolution.

You also continue to claim that the condemnation was of religious belief. Do you have any evidence (as in their actual wortds) that they condemned religious belief? Or is that simply a way to conveniently phrase your condemnation to make their actions look bad?

(I think the whole thing was silly and the council did something stupid to play to a particular audience, but if you are going to make a play for religious intolerance, it would be nice if you were not simply inventing the claim.)

Just because the Boards’s action may not have run afoul of the constitution doesn’t mean their action was proper. We’re talking abou the concept of “tolerance” not legality. But feel free to move the goal posts wherever you’d like.