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L. Neil Smith's
Number 523, June 14, 2009

Clearly, no nation with a Bill of Rights that includes
freedom of expression has any place anywhere for
anything even remotely like the FCC.

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Let's Be Tolerant
by Paul Bonneau

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

This is one of those sore points that have bugged me at times.

There is a website named, run by Morris Dees, that should be definitive, don't you think? Let's look at the SPLC/Morris Dees definition of the word "tolerance":

In its Declaration on the Principles of Tolerance, UNESCO offers a definition of tolerance that most closely matches our philosophical use of the word:

Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance is harmony in difference.

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!

"Tolerance" in no way implies appreciation, and hardly at all implies respect. It implies acceptance only that others are a certain way, not that one is going to adopt the ways of others.

When you tell a person, "I will tolerate you," it is not a friendly statement. You are certainly not showing respect or appreciation.

Look at these web definitions from the 1913 Webster's Unabridged Dictionary:

1. The power or capacity of enduring; the act of enduring; endurance.

2. The endurance of the presence or actions of objectionable persons, or of the expression of offensive opinions; toleration.

3. (Med.) The power possessed or acquired by some persons of bearing doses of medicine which in ordinary cases would prove injurious or fatal.

1. (Forestry) Capability of growth in more or less shade.

2. Allowed amount of variation from the standard or from exact conformity to the specified dimensions, weight, etc., as in various mechanical operations; specif.: (Coinage) The amount which coins, either singly or in lots, are legally allowed to vary above or below the standard of weight or fineness.

Do you see "respect" or "appreciation" in there? I sure don't!

What is going on here?

I think it is this way. Tolerance, in the conventional definition, is something that everyone should have. This is a view most people would share. I certainly do. It just means you won't attack people merely because they are different than you.

I think Unesco, SPLC et. al. decided to try to piggy-back onto this, the connotation of respect and appreciation; so when people are taught to be "tolerant" (as they should be) they will think that means to "respect diversity" and all that crap, with the inevitable downgrading of one's own personal standards, in comparison. It's the whole point of multiculturalism—raise others, degrade your own (especially if your own is something like "western" or "Christian").

Friedrich Hayek mentioned this tactic in his book The Road to Serfdom:

"The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those which they... have always held... The people are made to transfer their allegiance from the old gods to the new under the pretense that the new gods really are what their sound instinct had always told them but what before they had only dimly seen. And the most effective way to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning.

Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regimes are expressed....

If one has not one's self experienced this process, it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this change of the meaning of words, the confusion it causes, and the barriers to any rational discussion which it creates... And the confusion becomes worse because this change of meaning of words describing political ideals is not a single event but a continuous process, a technique employed consciously or unconsciously to direct the people. Gradually, as this process continues, the whole language becomes despoiled, and words become empty shells deprived of any definite meaning, as capable of denoting one thing as its opposite and used solely for the emotional associations which still adhere to them."

Of course the word has been almost ruined by now, like so many other good English words, since this misapplication is so common in the propaganda organs, er, I mean, media today.

It's even more hilarious when you consider Dees and his SPLC outfit spend so much effort dehumanizing people in the militias. They are not even tolerant of them in the 1913 sense, never mind the recent propaganda sense of "appreciation". They even have a link on their homepage where you can learn to "deconstruct biased language"! I guess statists don't have to be consistent.

Be tolerant, and teach your kids to be tolerant. But while you are teaching them this, make sure you teach them what tolerance means—and what it does not mean. There is nothing wrong with appreciation and respect, but that calls for the application of standards you might not share with others. You don't have to appreciate every load of crap in the world.


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