Friday, March 28, 2008

The Truth About Tolerance (Part 2)

There is a right and a wrong way to put forward the application of tolerance in society. Two main ingredients essential to its proper application are responsibility and the concept of grounded moral convictions. A huge problem regarding what (incorrectly) passes for tolerance in today's culture of secular liberalism is the fact that traditional, religiously- grounded convictions often suffer under wrong applications of it. We see daily examples where such convictions are either automatically dismissed, and/or tragically, imperiled. Yesterday's post contains several examples of this fact.

There are ten truth principles discussed in the book, "The Truth About Tolerance: Pluralism, Diversity and the Culture Wars." I hope that readers had the opportunity to read Chapter 5, The Truth About Truth. That chapter reveals and establishes the essential basis for the ten truth principles. All ten principles allow us to gain a clear and comprehensive understanding of the essential idea of toleration. What's more, your eyes will be opened to the fact that the term and true meaning of "tolerance" has been hijacked and so very badly skewed by secular humanistic liberal thinking.

Today, I will introduce and discuss the first three principles of genuine tolerance.

Principle 1
Tolerance, rightly understood, is a patience toward a practice or opinion one disapproves of.

People today have been misled into believing that tolerance should be defined as a synonym for the words "acceptance" or "agreement."

Excerpt from book:

The technical definition of tolerance is "A policy of patient forbearance in the presence of something which is disliked or disapproved of." The English word tolerance is derived from the Latin tolerare, meaning "to bear," so the concept of forbearance or putting up with something not agreeable is inherent in the concept of tolerance. Thus logically built in to the very idea of tolerance is the presence of disagreement. It would make no sense to be tolerant of a public policy or practice we agree with. The concept of tolerance is not relevant when there is no dispute or discontent about the way things should go or the way they should be done. Toleration need only be brought to bear when there is tension, when there is a disagreement about what is fitting and proper, whether the context be public or private.

So disagreement itself cannot constitute intolerance, that is, the failure to be tolerant when one ought to be. This is an extremely important trait of tolerance. Simply by disagreeing with a religious belief, public policy or behavioral habit I am not therefore automatically acting in a manner that is insensitive or intolerant. It would be inaccurate, not to mention uncharitable, to say that I was. Dissent is not immoral. The moral quality of dissent is determined by the style of its expression and the substance of its conviction, not by the simple fact it is disagreement.

We do not have to agree with people in order to be tolerant, to treat them civilly and with respect. Any suggestion that we do is nothing less than a manipulative call to intellectual stagnation and mental conformity. The demand for acceptance and affirmation -- by urging upon dissenters this false tolerance-- is itself intolerant because it would require the assent of others who do not wish to give it. It is as such a form of coercion and intellectual imperiousness.

Principle 2
The practice of tolerance must have limits.

Any collection of values that places tolerance at its peak will quickly topple over from the weight of its impossibility.

As J. Budziszewski notes, "According to our [moral] intuitions, not everything should be tolerated. The duty of tolerance takes the form, 'Tolerate what ought to be tolerated.' What this shows us is that tolerance is not a mechanical duty, but a duty involving judgment."

We can already see where secular liberalism has attempted to change what genuine tolerance demands. The "do not judge" mantra of homosexual activism (especially including the gay "christian" movement) wants to claim that any kind of judgment should never be "tolerated." How ironic is that?

The liberal American habit of "being tolerant" or "teaching tolerance," as though this is a reasonable and realistic solution to our contemporary moral crisis, is as impossible as it is superficial.

Let's look at the definition of "superficial":


1. concerned with or comprehending only what is apparent or obvious; not deep or penetrating emotionally or intellectually; "superficial similarities"; "a superficial mind"; "his thinking was superficial and fuzzy"; "superficial knowledge"; "the superficial report didn't give the true picture"; "only superficial differences" [ant: profound]
2. of, affecting, or being on or near the surface; "superficial measurements"; "the superficial area of the wall"; "a superficial wound"
3. of little substance or significance; "a few superficial editorial changes"; "only trivial objections"

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

Superficiality leads the concept of "tolerance" teaching in public schools today. Why? Because the secular elites have taken away any ability for students (and their parents) to be allowed to apply judgment towards the "diversity" teaching and moral matters being pushed upon them by those who have a liberal-thinking-only mindset.

The recent passing of SB777 here in California has shown the impossibility for students, teachers, and parents who disagree with such teachings to be heard or allowed dissent on such issues. What is this called? Anarchy! The next principle will demonstrate this very important moral point. Back to principle 2.

So tolerance operates in personal and social relationships in conjunction with other goods; it does not rudely lay atop them, covering over their own distinctive good role and purpose. The very reality of a diversity of moral goods (e.g., innocent people ought not be harmed; we should not abet our friends' self-destructive habits) means that we must be ready to jettison tolerance if necessary to protect them. Simple human decency and concern demand this.

Using the homosexual activism in public schools as an example, we can see that that the liberal elites do not want any allowance for those who disagree with the homosexual agenda to point out the fact that these kids are involving themselves in self-destructive habits. Rather than seeing counter events (e.g. like the Christian student led "Day of Truth") to the homosexual indoctrination going on in the schools (e.g. the "Day of Silence") as simple human decency and concern; the schools would rather do everything they legally could to discourage the message of the Christians. Yet, they happily uphold the pro-homosexual students event as a "positive" occurrence. What is wrong with this picture? It's bias...plain and simple. It is also a form of intolerance towards what the Christian students have to say.

Interestingly enough, this year's "Day of Silence" advocates have moved their "day" from Wednesday (in April) to Friday. Why? Because the "Day of Truth" always followed the day after the homosexual indoctrination event. Now, the "Day of Truth" students have to wait until after the weekend (while the "Day of Silence" stays in the minds of the students all weekend) to share their "Day of Truth" which directly (but lovingly and non-hostility) points out the truth about homosexual behavior and its undeniably physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences.

See how the "Day of Silence" propagandists work? How sad is that?!

Back to principle 2.

It is obvious that tolerance should not rigidly govern our lives. Any claim that tolerance should always be practiced is nothing less than an invitation to human brutality, on occasion, and moral relativism, uniformly. And, undeniably, moral relativism is illogical since it is self-refuting (e.g., the assertion that there are no objective moral truths represents itself as an objective moral truth; therefore if it is true it must also be false, which is nonsense). Neither is moral relativism logical socio-culturally.

Any effort to universalize tolerance, apart from being self-defeating and illogical, is doomed because it would end up giving permission or free rein to those devoted to destroying tolerance. If we tolerate everything, the ethic of tolerance itself is fair game (along with every other good), and we have no grounds on which to proscribe even the most reprehensible conduct. Tolerance cannot be the bottom line or last word to human social arrangements. Tolerance needs limits.

Principle 3
Tolerance allows for prudent moral criticism and strongly held individual belief.

Toleration is not the same as moral silence or moral agnosticism. Someone who never disagrees with anyone about anything for fear of being intolerant even when they know the other person's ideas are incoherent, dubious or flatly untrue, is, well, a coward. Such a person is acting out of a defect in personal character or a capitulation to the cultural force of political correctness, not a sense of friendship or broadminded humanity.

This describes the controversy over Barack Obama and his relationship with his pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Obama got in trouble because he closely associated (for 20 years!) with a man who recently has been exposed on video spewing such hateful rhetoric from the pulpit of a Christian church...of all places!! This church even had the audacity to sell videos and/or audio tapes of these "sermons" that contained these awful, vile comments!

There are all kinds of opinions as to why Obama would do such a thing. Obama also gave his own speech on the subject. However, over half of the country were not only shocked about the racist pastor being a close confidant of Obama's, they also found that the speech Obama delivered ended up unsatisfactorily addressing many of the questions on peoples minds. Obama must have known about his own pastors anti-white, anti-Jew, and anti-American hate speech and views. This is why he didn't allow Wright to appear and speak at his presidential run announcment. Trying to hide his racist pastor certainly back-fired on Obama. It's just not credible to believe that "he didn't know" for all those years.

Most people who don't agree with the views of a pastor leave the church! The fact that the pastor said untrue things about 9/11 would have been enough for most people to leave. Therefore, we must conclude that political expedience might have had a lot to do with Obama remaining in that church. What does this say about Obama's character? It speaks volumes, people! The next paragraph will inform us why.

Back to principle 3.

If I take seriously the humanity of another person, I will expect of them reasonable, responsible and ethically sound behavior. To harbor such expectations of others is not harsh or unfair. In fact, to expect very little of others in terms of their behavior and character--to have no concern about the ethical direction in which they are forming their character by the habits they are cultivating--is a brutal indifference. We harm others if we do not regard their mental and behavioral habits as relevant and important to their well-being, both now and in their future.

Bingo!! This reveals the huge problem that people have with Obama's complacency towards his pastor. In addition, subjecting his two young daughters to such hate speech is certainly not looking out for their well-being or future!

Indeed, even directly confronting people with their own destructive behavioral habits is not a sign of intolerance but, quite the contrary, a mark of true compassion. High behavioral expectations of people are really a sign of respect and concern for them, not indifference and contempt. If you want to help someone, you will honestly and sensitively tell them their mistakes. If you care about somebody, you will consistently hold them to decent ethical standards. If you are compassionate to people, you will not excuse their wrongdoing but fairly name it, and carefully speak to them of the importance of following a tried and true moral code that can bring stability and success to their lives.

The misguided and sentimentalized conception of compassion pre-eminent in American life today is that nice, tolerant people will allow others to make whatever behavioral choices they wish, without telling them whether what they have done and the habits or tendencies they are thereby forming are right or wrong, personally edifying or personally corrupting. This is not genuine compassion.

I want to share with you my belief that a certain talk radio and T.V. analyst news show commentator, Sean Hannity, displays respect, concern, and true compassion regarding the issues we face today.

Sean has a "hate Hannity" hot line for those who disagree with him. Whenever he plays some of the hateful comments people spew over the phone line, a lot of words have to be bleeped out. What is his reason for having that hot line? So that the liberals who hate him can get their spewing out of their systems and maybe be nicer to people they meet on the street (like his daily listeners) as a result. That is certainly a tolerant and compassionate stance - wouldn't you agree?

Anyway, yesterday, on Hannity and Colmes, Sean confronted a pastor who was filmed on Youtube calling Barack Obama "trash" and verbally abusing and insulting Obama's entire family. Despite the fact that Sean disagrees with everything Barack Obama stands for politically, he still called this other pastor out for his hateful rhetoric and personal attacks against Obama. I thought that was very magnanimous of Hannity!

I believe that Hannity did it for another good reason. The pastor insisted that what he was saying about Obama was "biblical." Hannity strongly disagreed and told him so. Like me, Hannity did not want true, biblical Christian faith to be tarnished by a person's incorrect interpretation(s) of Scripture; especially when his intent was only to publically verbally abuse another person. There is an enormous difference between calling a person out for their politics, behavior, associations, judgment in life, and character. But to simply disparage a person the way that pastor Manning did on Sean's show would not be tolerated by Hannity!

O.K. Now my readers can all call me out on the labels that I have given Obama and his wife. Guilty as charged! However, in my own defense, I will say that they were more often meant to be humorous rather than hateful.

Back to Principle 3.

Secular liberalism has replaced the moral vocabulary of Judeo-Christian ethics with the therapeutic slogans of narcissistic culture, in which desires matter more than obligations, intentions more than actions and feelings more than character.

In a long and socially corrosive philosophical journey since the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, we have moved from a confidence in the wisdom of Western culture's intellectual heritage and Judeo-Christian foundations to a free-floating skepticism about the possibility of knowing objective reality and moral truth. This intellectual devolution has continued since the middle of the twentieth century, and it has manifested in a sneering rebuke of traditional morality and a complacent subjectivism smugly nestled in the obfuscating bushes of "discourse communities," "linguistic paradigms" and "sociocultural contexts." But this non realism and jargon of postmodernism, as well as the atomistic commitment to radical individualism it carries, is only the grinding noise of contemporary liberalism's drive to authenticate its contempt for traditional morality and to affirm that faith and ethics is a matter of taste, not truth, and that judgments about right and wrong are only acts of the will, and not public expressions of genuine human knowledge.

Wow! Is that a powerful paragraph or what? There, within those sentences is revealed the intellectual description of the current culture wars; not only here in America, but across the world as well.

I wasn't planning on sharing an example that is written in Principle 1. But now, I think that it will better illustrate how today's mistaken and misguided definition of "tolerance" is being (unfortunately and to our detriment) incorrectly defined as "affirmation."

In the United Nation's decision to declare 1995 as the "The Year of Tolerance," they got the definition of the word wrong.

In the UN's declaration, tolerance was defined as "respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human." Here the very idea of disagreement, which has to be present before tolerance even becomes a relevant concept, is completely missing. The UN mistook affirmation for tolerance. Without the presence of objection and disapproval, we cannot even get to work of exercising tolerance. Under the UN's unfortunate mis-definition, fair-minded criticism of a culture's practice, say, Saudi Arabia's denial of female suffrage, qualifies as a narrow-minded disrespect for that nation. In this way the substitution of acceptance for true tolerance leads to conformity and acquiescence to injustice.

Western culture has shifted from a recognition of the fact or phenomenon of pluralism to an ideological conviction that pluralism is itself a proper and normative template for understanding morality and social life. Pluralism or "diversity" has been translated from simply a description of social difference to a value claim about the secular and anti traditional way we are morally obliged to think about ethics and truth. Hence, the misguided yet pervasive view that anyone who really, explicitly believes anything--especially Judeo-Christian values--cannot be tolerant. William Bennett comments at length on this lamentable cultural condition:

Deep moral convictions are often thought to be antithetical to the spirit of tolerance; in fact, they are not. A very particular and very misguided conception of tolerance holds sway today: the tolerance, rooted in relativism, that proclaims we cannot know right and wrong, that rejects assertions based on inviolable principle, that believes truth is mere social construction. But this is not tolerance; this is moral exhaustion and sloth. Nor is it even sincere. For what we find in settings where "tolerance" is the chief byword is often something else entirely. College campuses, where the free marketplace of ideas should flourish most impressively, may be characterized by speech codes, tactics of intimidation, and coerced political conformity.

Properly understood, tolerance means treating people with respect and without malice; it does not require us to dissolve social norms or to weaken our commitment to ancient and honorable beliefs.

Tolerance, then, rightly understood, brings to bear on ethical issues the God-given gifts of human reflection, analysis, moral intuition and far-reaching concern for the well-being of others. The practical wisdom of tolerance in conjunction with our firm moral knowledge leads us to humane and discerning judgment, not away from it. As one philosopher insight-fully and concisely observed, "[Tolerance] is not forbearance from judgment, but the fruit of judgment."

Source: The Truth About Tolerance: Pluralism, Diversity and the Culture Wars by Brad Stetson and Joseph G. Conti, InterVarsity Press, 2005 pp. 140-147.


Mark said...

My words Racist Black Liberation theologian anti-Christ moron, Jeremiah A. Wright Jr (Barack Hussein Obama's pastor for 20 years), apparently don't care for Italians either...

ok, maybe I could have left out the word moron, but it's true, no?

Christinewjc said...

I hear ya Mark! I might have added the words "radical" and "liberal" somewhere in there, too!

Sometimes the truth hurts - and we need to be very descriptive about untruths being spewed.

Christinewjc said...

How apropos. Just after proof-reading and correcting some of the grammatical errors in my post (sorry about that!), I got an email with the following brazen example of liberal intolerance:

3. Monday's upcoming speech on "The Born Gay Hoax" already causing controversy, vandalism. (Framingham State College, 7:00 pm).

As we announced earlier, on Monday evening, March 31, Ryan Sorba, co-chair of the Young Conservatives of America and author of the upcoming book "The 'Born Gay' Hoax," will present a lecture on the subject of his book followed by a question and answer period. The lecture is sponsored by the Framingham State College Conservatives.

And of course, the "tolerant" homosexual community has already acted predictably. On campus, all of the posters advertising the talk have been stolen. And the College Conservatives have been threatened that they may be reported for "hate speech" and "intolerance" violations.

This promises to be a VERY interesting evening. The public is invited.

More on the speech, with date, time, place, and link to map.

NOTE: Mr. Sorba's book will not be available for several months. But Monday we will be posting excerpts from the book - "The Born Gay Hoax" - on the MassResistance website.

So typical...

Arlen said...

Good evening Christine,

I respect everyone's right to their own opinion, but seldom do I respect the actual opinion.

In the time that He walked the earth, Jesus' behavior was the model to be emulated. Within that model, tolerance can be found if we search for it. I believe that Jesus appropriated His influence regarding tolerance and some people accepted it and changed (the woman at the well in John 4) and some didn't (the rich young ruler who went away sad because he couldn't accept Jesus' edict).

The point of view defined as liberal or liberalism is a paradox.

While in theory it advocates the freedom of the individual, the reality is that freedom only exists IF you adhere to liberal tenets. (Anything else is unacceptable, which in itself is intolerant).

The liberal version of tolerance is a paradox in the form of an enigma (my perspective).

Excellent post.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Arlen,

Thanks for reading a commenting about this post. Great book!

You wrote: "I respect everyone's right to their own opinion, but seldom do I respect the actual opinion."

You have expressed freedom of speech and true tolerance all in one brief, yet to the point sentence!

Great points all around in your comment - especially the one regarding Jesus.

Yes. Jesus exhibited tolerance. Yet, he would not compromise the truth (of course) about the need for repentance from sin for salvation.

The two examples you cited represent the only two choices in the matter. Acceptance to the truth, or rejection thereof.