Tolerance for Intolerance

I’ll tolerate your intolerance. But there are conditions.

I’ll get to those in a shortly. But first a bit of personal context. If you know me you’d describe me as “leans to the left.” While leaning one way or the other seems to fit the way the world wants to define everyone these days it’s not a distinction that matters to me. As a few of my “lean to the right” friends have found to their dismay I actually hold a few opinions on a few things that make their views look left of Karl Marx.

The labels and the leanings don’t mean spit to me because it’s all a circle. Lean left enough and you end up on the right and vice-versa. What goes around comes around as long as you can convince enough folks in the center that you’re on the up side of the curve and not the down side. It’s enough to make one see red. A color that proves this knock-down, knee-slapping funny point. The only place we’ve seen as much red as that adorning everything on the American right these days was in the old Soviet Union in a Moscow whore house off Red Square. Matadors and bulls are having a tough time keeping up. Oh, wait. Not a popular sport these days. Sorry.

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Regardless of the ridiculous games we play with left and right, everyone (both sides?) find themselves currently playing the change the language, change the discourse game thinking or pretending they’ve come up with something new and relevant (again.) Those that think they have just haven’t been around enough to know better. Those that pretend know better. But they do it anyway.

Banning books is popular (again.) Limiting and condeming speech is popular (again.) Banning artists is popular (again-although this time around we call it “canceling”.) Banning the teaching of the full breadth of history is popular (again.) And again, and again, and again ad nauseam.

There’s nothing new under the sun and certainly the human capacity to forget or set aside the past is right up there with all of our other failings. The only innovation is the technology that allow us to observe, comment, and take advantage of our forgetfullness more quickly. I used to think that technology would help us somehow hang on to our past a bit easier, learn from our mistakes and create a better world. That was a false hope. It’s easier and more profitable to serve ads to the ignorant.

So, with the above context in mind, back to the beginning.

I’ll tolerate your intolerance. And here are my conditions.

1. If you’re intolerant of some “other” go right ahead and be so, say so, and speak what you’re going to do about it. But before you puff yourself up with righteous indignation think it through.

That “other” isn’t going to go away. The “other” was probably here before you or whomever taught you to hate them. You can pass all the laws you want, but “others” will continue to do their “othering” regardless of your existence. They always have. They always will. You be you. They will be they.

The only way you change that, and bear with me here, is if you wipe all those “others” out of existence. If that’s what you want, have the chutzpah to stand up and say so. Sure, you’ll be ostracized and maybe punched in the face or tossed into prison. And then you too can be an “other.”

2. Admit you’re afraid. You’re not standing for anything. You’re not preserving anything. You’re not advancing a cause. You’re just scared shitless, retreating and running from ideas that challenge yours like a terrified mouse into a hole. It’s scary to suspect that someone else’s ideas feel like they’re shaking the ground beneath your feet. I’ve got news. The ground isn’t shaking. It’s your knees that have gone wobbly.

3. Follow the money. You may not be making any, but folks sure are making bank off of your outrage.

4. Have a sense of humor. If you’ve lost yours I’m sorry. Go find another one. Otherwise the joke’s on you. Life is comedy. It only turns to tragedy when folks forget, that in the end, we’re all punch lines.

Author: Warner Crocker

I stumble through life as a theatre director and playwright as well as a gadget geek...commenting along the way. Every day I learn something new is a good day, so I share what I find exciting, new, stupid and often worthwhile.

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