Oct 102005

I enjoyed reading Joshua French's letter to the editor last week about absolutism and moral relativism. In it he says that not every religion can be true, and I agree. I've always had a problem with tolerant moral relativists, because if they're so tolerant, why are they intolerant of my intolerance? I'd say that's the opposite of tolerance, i.e. intolerance.

And if there are no absolutes, why are the moral relativists so absolutely sure of this fact?

It's interesting to see how dangerous one word has become. No one wants the label of intolerance. I'm willing to bet some people would rather be called a Nazi than to be called intolerant. And the funny thing is, not too many people exactly define the word. To most people who use the word, intolerant means bigot, racist or Texan.

Let's get down to the brass tacks here. According to Webster's definition, every group throughout the history of the world has been intolerant. The Pilgrims were intolerant of the Indians; the Indians were intolerant of the Pilgrims. Liberals are intolerant of Republicans, Republicans are intolerant of liberals, and I think that libertarians are proud to be labeled intolerant. (Just kidding! I love libertarians! I'm going to vote for one sometime!)

And I'm not advocating the idea that everyone should hate every group they don't agree with. We should in fact always be polite and courteous and listen to others' beliefs. But at the same time, everyone should take it with a grain of salt and not accept everything as true. All I'm getting at is that the word, as it is used today, is worthless and the people shouting it at other people are then in turn being intolerant of their intolerance.

The point I'm trying to make can be summed up by G. K. Chesterton, who said, "Tolerance is the virtue of a man without conviction." Would you rather be someone who goes through life, just following the flow and shouting "Intolerant!" when things don't go your way, or would you rather stand by your principles and say, "I know that to be wrong, and I will not tolerate it." So, in this day and age, I encourage everyone to stand by their convictions, whatever they may be and say, "I am intolerant."

Brian Johanson


technical journalism

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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