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To think that 'tolerance' has gone too far

(184 Posts)
AKMD Fri 17-Jun-11 12:20:19

I am wearing a hard hat ready to be flamed...

I came across an article in a religious magazine and I felt that it really defined my confusion about the line between being tolerant and standing up for morality. This is a quote from it:

"Until recently in our national history, tolerance referred to racial and religious non-discrimination. It meant civility in the political arena; in other words, respecting the right of others to express their views, even if we do not agree with them. It meant treating all people with decency and respect...

Today, however, the world is in danger of abandoning all sense of absolute right or wrong, all morality and virtue, replacing them with an all-encompassing ?tolerance? that no longer means what it once meant. An extreme definition of tolerance is now widespread that implicitly or explicitly endorses the right of every person to choose their own morality, even their own ?truth,? as though morality and truth were mere matters of personal preference. This extreme tolerance culminates in a refusal to recognize any fixed standards or draw moral distinctions of any kind. Few dare say no to the ?almighty self? or suggest that some so-called ?lifestyles? may be destructive, contrary to higher law, or simply wrong.

When tolerance is so inflated out of all proportions, it means the death of virtue, for the essence of morality is to draw clear distinctions between right and wrong. All virtue requires saying no firmly and courageously to all that is morally bankrupt.

Curiously enough, this new modern tolerance is often a one-way street. Those who practice it expect everyone to tolerate them in anything they say or do, but show no tolerance themselves toward those who express differing viewpoints or defend traditional morality. Indeed, their intolerance is often most barbed toward those of religious conviction... Believers of all faiths have every right to participate in and share their convictions in the public arena."

The whole article is here under the article " Defending the Family".

I've really noticed on MN that anyone who suggests that certain lifestyle choices might actually be wrong gets flamed for being judgemental and intolerant, when in fact those choices are root causes of family breakdown and wider negative impacts on wider society. AIBU to think that there is a limit to tolerance in that it should protect the integrity of our society, not seek to make it ok for everyone to do whatever they want?

Glitterknickaz Fri 17-Jun-11 12:22:42

This wouldn't be 'The Watchtower' would it? I didn't read.
Anything professing intolerance to be desirable is a definite no for me.

AKMD Fri 17-Jun-11 12:24:51

Nope, not The Watchtower, that's JW.

namechangedtoconfess Fri 17-Jun-11 12:25:20

Well there are some things I think we should be intolerant of.

And clearly so do other people, otherwise we wouldn't have laws.

It depends what 'lifestyles' are in question though.

Glitterknickaz Fri 17-Jun-11 12:25:27

Whatever. Normalising intolerance is a dangerous thing.

PrinceHumperdink Fri 17-Jun-11 12:27:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hester Fri 17-Jun-11 12:27:57

I think that what gets tolerated and what gets condemned is a constant, never-ending negotiation for every society. It's not a question of 'going too far' so much as continually recallibrating how we achieve both individual freedom and social cohesion.

As a lesbian mother of children from different ethnic heritages, my life has been transformed by society's growing tolerance of homosexuality and of interracial relationships. I'm very aware of how quickly that has changed even in my lifetime, and I'm very grateful for it.

However, I'm also quite prepared to judge others and comment on how they treat their children, behave in public etc (see any number of MN threads!): this is the way society sets norms and teaches people how to behave, and if 'judgey pants' is the price of that then fair enough.

Of course, it's not as easy as drawing up two lists of things that should be tolerated and things that shouldn't. Greater freedoms always bring negative as well as positive consequences. I think anyone who reckons there are easy answers has got this very wrong.

PrinceHumperdink Fri 17-Jun-11 12:28:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Glitterknickaz Fri 17-Jun-11 12:29:52

There is tolerance in a moral sense and tolerance that defines the law.
Unless what someone is doing is illegal then it absolutely should be tolerated by society.

StrawberriesAndScream Fri 17-Jun-11 12:30:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

drinkinginLA Fri 17-Jun-11 12:33:35

Could you be more specific about what you mean by lifestyles, and perhaps an example of something that has become tolerated that is harmful? - maybe see if you can avoid abortion, homosexuality, divorce, non-married partnerships or the 'red hot' topics etc etc or your point will get lost. Not that these are things that are nes on your list, was just saying

AKMD Fri 17-Jun-11 12:34:20

I think hester is right on this, it's not as easy as drawing up list of things that shouldn't be tolerated. Examples of some of the things I believe shouldn't be accepted societal norms are sex before marriage, routinely going out with the intention of getting drunk and working-age households where no one works or has any intention of working (not due to disability of course).

Chen23 Fri 17-Jun-11 12:38:10

"An extreme definition of tolerance is now widespread that implicitly or explicitly endorses the right of every person to choose their own morality, even their own truth, as though morality and truth were mere matters of personal preference. "

If this person is trying to say that morality isn't a personal preference but rather something that was fixed on tablets of stone a good few hundred years ago that we have no choice but to conform to then they can happily go fuck themselves imo.

If someones lifestyle choices or belief system isn't going against any laws of the land (laws set up by democratically elected bodies as opposed to thousand year old constantly revised religious texts) then it's not really anyone else's business or right to enforce their moral 'code' on anyone else.

btw without wishing to be facetious the cover of the magazine the OP links to brings to mind some rather unsavoury woodland dogging scene that I doubt the Church of the Latter day saints would approve of. grinwink

btw I presume these mormons you're linking to would (given half a chance) outlaw coffee, tea and marriage outside of sex as it falls outside their 'moral code'?

AKMD Fri 17-Jun-11 12:40:06

Oh and my DH and DS are mixed race, I flat-shared at uni with a gay man from San Francisco and my best friend is a borderline alcoholic so I'm not spewing out fanatical hatred.

Glitterknickaz Fri 17-Jun-11 12:42:13

Examples of some of the things I believe shouldn't be accepted societal norms are sex before marriage, routinely going out with the intention of getting drunk

Ok... this. Who exactly is it hurting?

fedupofnamechanging Fri 17-Jun-11 12:42:33

This is a really interesting post.

I think that article is right in that some people expect their choices to be tolerated by wider society, while not tolerating the fact that others may have different views and I think there is a selfishness in today's society where some people think that if they want to do something, then that is a good enough reason to go ahead, regardless of who gets hurt in the meantime.

Otoh, when you talk about 'traditional morality' or 'higher law', that assumes that there are complete rights and wrongs which should never be questioned. The trouble with that is we often can't agree about what is absolutely right/wrong. Most people would agree that murder is wrong, yet some countries still have capital punishment and things get blurry when you bring in assisted suicides for example. And of course, 'traditional morality' would condemn homosexuality, yet most people (I hope)have moved on from that point.

Tis a tough one.

StrawberriesAndScream Fri 17-Jun-11 12:43:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StrawberriesAndScream Fri 17-Jun-11 12:45:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fedupofnamechanging Fri 17-Jun-11 12:47:03

thank you Strawberries

stillfrazzled Fri 17-Jun-11 12:47:09

Interesting debate on the changing of societal norms, absence/presence of absolutes etc.

But you lost me at no sex before marriage. As SAS said, what are the adverse effects? Are they worse than the effects of locking young people into a lifetime commitment to a partner they may well not be compatible with?

Chen23 Fri 17-Jun-11 12:47:32

"Oh and my DH and DS are mixed race, I flat-shared at uni with a gay man from San Francisco and my best friend is a borderline alcoholic so I'm not spewing out fanatical hatred."

that's a bit of a dull cliche.......

Some of my best friends are black etc etc etc hmm

BornSicky Fri 17-Jun-11 12:48:17

AKMD that article is deeply misogynistic repetitively blaming single mothers for the demise of the family unit and going on and on about fathers being deprived of being part of a family unit because A) women have the right to divorce and B) women have the right to abortion.

so if you think divorce and abortion and Women's Rights in general are fundamentally immoral then you shouldn't be confused by the Preacher's proselytising.

your "morals" or lifestyle choices - whatever words we choose to play dress-up with may differ from mine, but to use a little religious phrasing... "Judge not, lest ye be judged."

Bennifer Fri 17-Jun-11 12:50:01

I'm not racist, but the country's going to the dogs

Pendeen Fri 17-Jun-11 12:51:01

hester made a contentions point when she said: "...society's growing tolerance of....."

Which "society"?

I would be interested to learn in which part of the world you live hester.

I do not accept that there can be any such thing as a UK-wide "society".

Easy to see this is a fact by reading almost any discussion on MN.

Punkatheart Fri 17-Jun-11 12:51:29

I am curious because the article seems to pussyfoot around what it actually means.

The most striking comment is 'When tolerance is so inflated out of all proportions, it means the death of virtue,'

It is said as a truth, not a question. But you can have a whole philosophical debate about 'virtue.'

The rise of the self has been going on since Freud. Like it or lump it, we now dance to the sounds of our morality. Unless we believe in something, like religion - which sets some of its own rules...

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