Sunday, August 29

Should we tolerate the intolerant?

One of the pillars of a free society is tolerance for those who are 'different.' But what happens when a tolerant society--as ours most certainly is--runs into a culture whose official, stated goal is to either force everyone to convert everyone to their religion or else kill them?

In other words, what happens when a tolerant society meets extremely intolerant people?

A few philosophers concluded that this encounter could have only one outcome: if the tolerant culture stayed true to that principle--extending unlimited tolerance even to those who will not accept the slightest deviation from their doctrines--the former would be destroyed.

The only way for the tolerant society to survive was by refusing to tolerate the intolerant group.

I'll admit this at first seems like one of those stupid paradoxes that sometimes plague highschool students--"If God is all powerful, can he make a weight so heavy that even He can't lift?" But unlike most paradoxes, this one is extremely serious. In fact the wrong decision will be fatal.


Most Americans have been raised to believe tolerance is near the top of the list of vital characteristics of a free, civilized society. So they don't want to accept the idea that in this one case, our nation has to be intolerant to survive.

If you want our free, tolerant society to survive, we're going to have to overcome this reluctance.


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