There are four standard ways of turning a tolerant person’s tolerance against them. This is how they are presented:
Method 1) You have to tolerate my intolerance or your tolerance is a lie. Hate speech is freedom of speech, silencing hate is dictatorial, oppressive and intolerant.
Method 2) Your tolerance is allowing terrible people to do terrible things. Most typically at the moment, if you are tolerant of Muslims, you are tolerating anything that can be pinned to a Muslim criminal, if not actively encouraging and endorsing it. It’s because of people like you that a Muslim gang was able to sexually abuse white teenagers in the north of the UK.
Method 3) Your tolerance is, in a round about way, causing people to do terrible things. People becoming fascists, perpetrating hate crimes and voting for psychopaths is basically a reaction against your dangerous, oppressive tolerance.
Method 4 ) Your tolerance is oppressing me. I want to celebrate Christmas, but your tolerance means it’s not politically correct for me to be straight, white, Christian, affluent, safe. Your tolerance is not really tolerance, your tolerance is a means of oppressing innocent majorities.
I see these go by regularly online, and I think it’s important to publically flay their dodgy hides off. These statements are used to silence and confuse people who are tolerant, inclusive, compassionate and generally decent human beings. It fails to recognise that what we want to do is extend those basics of human decency to anyone who is quietly minding their own business and not doing any harm. Tolerance doesn’t embrace violence, criminality or hate, regardless of who is doing it. That would be apathy. Tolerance doesn’t stop people from going about their own harmless business – tyranny does that.
Genuinely tolerant, inclusive people aren’t afraid of not ‘being PC’ if a person is acting dreadfully. We might want to talk about the context, but understanding the reasons is a whole separate issue. Being told you can’t do things because they aren’t PC, actually tends to come from people who are not PC. Like the whole celebrating Christmas thing – the idea there’s even a problem here comes from the anti-PC brigade and seems to be a self perpetuating myth.
The idea that inclusive people who don’t need everyone else to conform to their preferences are in some way the cause of people becoming Nazis, is one of the most curious bits of double think I’ve seen in a while. It recognises that the Nazi bit really isn’t good, or desirable, but rather than blame the Nazis amongst us, is blames the people who are doing most to try and resist that very thing. At this point I can only shake my head in confusion and point you towards my recent post on gaslighting.
This isn’t about logic, or reason, it’s about forcing other people to shut up. The kind of people who attack tolerance and inclusivity don’t, I suspect, really care if the logic holds up. It’s not about the logic, it’s about the winning – which is why arguing and reasoning is likely to be a waste of your energy. Tolerance is not obliged to embrace the intolerant in order to still count as tolerant. It’s not a freedom of speech issue. It’s not a question of oppression. It’s a matter of drawing a line, and saying that violence, the call to violence, and harming people for no other reason than your own hate, isn’t acceptable. An it harm none, do what thou will. Go round trying to cause harm, and there should be no room to demand the tolerance you would deny to others.