Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A short note on tolerance

Norm links to a letter in the Times, making the point that the concept of tolerance is often misunderstood as acceptance:
"The traditional dictionary definition of tolerance is "the ability to endure"; that is, the ability to endure someone else's expression of an opinion, even if we find it insulting, demeaning or offensive. This does not preclude criticism of their beliefs but it should preclude censorship of them."
Absolutely - and I'd state it more strongly than that. When people talk about 'tolerance', often they mean nothing of the kind. For there is no need for tolerance if you approve of something. When it comes to the matter of individual beliefs, tolerance is the most anyone can reasonably expect. To go beyond that, to insist that beliefs should be respected simply because they are beliefs is, um, intolerable.

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