I feel the need to address intolerance, starting with two topics which I feel are related, “It’s OK” and “Lives Matter”.
Tip of the hat to @ZhiZhu@newsie.social, for some toots that inspired part of this article. Thanks!
An incredibly well-to-do cartoonist is losing his support for finally being so visibly racist and off the wall that newspapers just had to react. I am fine with that, and wish they had moved sooner.
We must not tolerate intolerance. There is a famous “Paradox of Tolerance” that observes that a society cannot be tolerant with no limits or its ability to be tolerant will be destroyed by the intolerant. We are seeing this today, all over the world, where people are using their “free speech” to support hatred and to keep the less privileged people down. And they’re very good at it. Some examples:
- Black Lives Matter
- The conventional MAGA reply to this was “All lives matter”, which is of course true, but was well understood by everyone to mean “No, they don’t”. You couldn’t get a MAGA person to say “Yes, black lives matter because all lives matter”. They’d skip that first bit. Everyone understood that they meant “No”. That’s not OK.
- It’s OK to be White
- This is a tricky one. It is, of course, OK to be whatever skin tone you are, tanning salons notwithstanding. But this phrase is used by white supremacists to mean far more, something like “It’s OK to be white (and not OK not to be)” or “It’s OK to be white and on top”. That’s not OK.
- The OK / White Power Sign.
- There was a time when the OK sign, thumb and forefinger making a ring, the other three fingers up, was just a sign that meant, OK, great, good stuff, perfect. But someone noticed that it sort of spells WP if you look at it just right, and it has become, in the hands of some, yet another racist supremacist symbol. That’s not OK.
It’s not just about race. It’s about sex, gender, and orientation. It’s about rich or poor. It’s about Christian or Jew or Muslim. It’s about capitalist or worker. It’s about any kind of difference that can be used to make one group “better” than another, or give one group power over another.
“Blue lives matter.” Therefore the cop has a right to shoot some black person for failing to signal a turn, and if the cop later says he feared for his life, he and his children are out of luck.
Not all … men, white people, cops, …
Most of us know in our hearts that certain subgroups of humanity are looked down upon, and suppressed, by other groups, and we know that it’s wrong. And most of us, most of the time, probably shake our heads, shrug our shoulders, and turn away. Maybe we vote to support our ideals, maybe we vote against the racists, and fascists, and supremacists. Maybe we contribute to causes that help people who need it. But mostly, we turn away.
I think this is understandable. What can we do other than vote and contribute? Only a few of any group are marchers, protestors, sign carriers, door knockers. The bulk of people don’t have that energy in them. It might be better if more did, but I truly believe that we are all doing the best we can, day to day, just to keep our stuff together. I think that’s about as well as we can do.
But we do have some ability to influence. We can speak out, maybe on our web site. We might be able to inject a little reason on NextDoor or when talking with associates. Maybe when someone is rude to a server or worker at the grocery, we can at least then be kind to that same server, or, on a good day, suggest to the rude person that the server is just doing their job, for minimal pay, and that they should address their concern where it matters. to Mr Kroger himself.
But you know, folks go off on servers, not just because they are jerks, but because they, too are frustrated and have no power to make things better. They aren’t mature enough to know not to punch down, but they, too, are just trying to have a decent life and it’s not working out for them because they can’t find the fucking Corn Toasties. No, seriously, when you’re on the edge, the smallest thing can set you off.
They need help too, if we can provide it.
Some few of us, I have to believe it is well under half, and I fear it may be as much as a third, are truly intolerant of those “beneath” us. And as a society, we must not tolerate that. And that’s not a paradox.
Tolerance in society is not an inviolable rule. It is an agreement we make with each other, to tolerate and ideally embrace our differences. We agree to be mutually tolerant.
An intolerant person is breaking the agreement. As such, the agreement does not apply to them and we can—indeed we should—not grant them tolerance.
It is OK not to tolerate intolerance. In fact, we must not tolerate intolerance!