Monday, January 2, 2012

What's So Great About Tolerance?

Tolerance seems to be promoted fairly often, but I'm not quite sure when one should even be tolerant.  If x is bad, x shouldn't be tolerated.  If x isn't bad, then one shouldn't have negative feelings towards x, and without the negative feelings I think it's odd to say one "tolerates" something (ex. it would be odd to say something like, "I tolerate non-murderers" since all things being equal, we don't have negative feelings towards non-murderers and despite "accepting" them, it still doesn't feel right to refer to this acceptance as tolerance).

A more relevant example: gay people. If being gay isn't wrong, you shouldn't have negative feelings for them.  If you do have negative feelings towards gays despite thinking being gay is not wrong, I don't think the best answer is to "tolerate" gay people by repressing your negative feelings to act civil towards gays, but instead you should work on getting rid of those negative feelings entirely to the point that the idea of "tolerating gays" sounds just as odd as the idea of "tolerating straights".

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