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Milton J. Madison - An American Refugee Now Living in China, Where Liberty is Ascending

Federalism, Free Markets and the Liberty To Let One's Mind Wander. I Am Very Worried About the Fate of Liberty in the USA, Where Government is Taking people's Lives ____________________________________________________________________________________________ "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue." -Barry Goldwater-

Friday, June 02, 2006

What Is Intolerance?

As defined here.
n 1: impatience with annoyances; "his intolerance of interruptions" 2: unwillingness to recognize and respect differences in opinions or beliefs [ant: tolerance]
Also can be an extreme sensitivity to things such as foods and medicine. In the case of foods and medicine, these items may be considered necessary to life and hopefully one would be tolerant of such things.

The word intolerance is bandied about quite frequently and is particularly useful in bludgeoning Southern [Baptist] Christians and the likes of Gary Bauer, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and James Dobson whose beliefs preclude them from accepting certain things. As Howard Dean famously bloviated last year...
Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, unapologetic in the face of recent criticism that he has been too tough on his political opposition, said in San Francisco this week that Republicans are "a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It's pretty much a white Christian party."

"The Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people," Dean said Monday, responding to a question about diversity during a forum with minority leaders and journalists. "We're more welcoming to different folks, because that's the type of people we are. But that's not enough. We do have to deliver on things: jobs and housing and business opportunities."
Ok, then. Sounds a little bigoted to me that white people, Christians or a subset of the two are to be defined as unfriendly and bigoted lot. Or is that just the white people who are Republicans so its not really all white people at all, a self selected lot of bigoted people. Maybe Howard would like to see all people marked with a D, R or I to confer their bigotedness to all people to know and see. But lets not dwell on a dufus like Howard Dean that tends to open his mouth-insert his foot and he is just attempting to defend the DemNOcrats racial turf and stir up the base that increasingly loves to hear this kind of divisive demogogary. So, I see it as just the DemNOcrats playing the race card again, for all intensive purposes, something that they do frequently and with very little reaction from the left-leaning press. But to call the GOP a "white Christian party" is a comment loaded with trouble. The comment itself is dripping with hate or maybe intolerance itself. And I argue, that is itself intolerant of the beliefs of the white Southern Christians.

But all of this leads me to argue, that intolerance can only be intolerance if the 'victim' is deserving to be tolerated. For example, most societies do not tolerate murderers or child molesters amongst them. That seems very normal to me. So they lock them away and there is a social benefit to doing so. Society will not tolerate murderers and child rapists to walk in our midst and risk further trouble. Sounds logical I think. So, are the beliefs, Christian or not of white Southern Christians worthy of being tolerated?

However, most issues are not as black-and-white as murderers and child molesters, so therefore one has to use a decision threshold to decide what policy to support and which ones to go against. Simply which social issues deserve tolerance and for those that you think deserve tolerance, what is the societal benefit.

So for many issues, its not that they, just for the virtue of being issues deserve tolerance, but the burden of proof is on the issue or those that benefit from it. So lets take the example of gay marriage. Just the fact that gays exist don't give them the right to marry. Many things exist and just simple existence doesn't give them the right to marry. I cannot marry a rock, for example, no matter how much I attest that I love this particular rock. There is no societal benefit to me marrying a rock. So what is the point? There is a societal benefit to marriage. I argue that the societal benefit despite the soupy Hollywood argument that marriage exists for the sole purpose as a attestation of love, is that this is the natural structure for raising children. Unions between a man and woman typically, but not all the time, result in the creation of children. This is the stable state of this natural situation and society generally asks that people marry and plan to support their children financially and in a stable living situation.

Generally, gay couples will not produce offspring. So what is the societal benefit to allowing them to marry? So they feel more comfortable? Or to shove their relationship down the throats of everyone else and force feed society the need for accepting this? Where is the benefit to society as a whole? In fact, I argue that there maybe a net cost to society. The benefits of marriage generally include the passing on of assets to the spouse and children in a tax beneficial structure. This allows the family to stay together in the unlikely event of an untimely death of either or both of the parents, particularly the breadwinner. Do able bodied gay couples need this protection? Particularly if they are not expected to bear children? And how about something like health insurance costs? If both are able bodied, does society or corporations then have the responsibility of supporting the other person that should be able to support themselves on their own? The system that was setup to support families where one spouse may not be able to participate in the labor market due to the caring of children is now transformed to something that it wasn't designed to be. Then why shouldn't non-lovers be allowed to marry in order to gain the benefits presented by these kinds of relationships? It it just sex that defines what is a proper marriage or the ability to generate children? Maybe the benefits that are accorded to married couples are no longer necessary since times have changed. Maybe all of these benefits should be eliminated.

Furthermore, I have heard the argument that in order for these people to be accepted by society, then marriage is the way to go. Well, it appears as if they are already accepted by a portion of society, so what do they mean by this? That their loving relationship be codified by the laws of the land to grant them certain rights? To what ends? For personal ends for them or for the benefit of society as a whole? Well this is where I think that the proponents of gay marriage have failed to make their case. What exactly are the societal benefits and how do they offset the very real costs that I offered earlier that will be incurred by this?

Getting back to the 'intolerant' Christians, their intolerance is more subtle and largely limited to abortion and issues surrounding the rights of gays...
Church-going Americans have grown increasingly intolerant in the past four years of politicians making compromises on such hot issues as abortion and gay rights, according to a survey released on Saturday.
I have to take issue with the writer and the 'survey' that purports that Christians are less tolerant of these issues. They have never been tolerant of these things. They may have kept their mouths shut, but they were never comfortable tolerating these kinds of things and now that politicians are making compromises do they or do they not have the right to push back against it or are they just expected to tolerate these changes? And does having an opinion or espousing an opinion or actually fighting for or against certain issues intolerant?

Religious values and the tolerance of religious thought is an issue that was dealt with 400 years ago by philosophers Hobbes, Locke and Rosseau as I wrote about here. Religion is a moral map for people to follow. It is part of the societal fabric of people and communities, so I argue that by the virtue of being religious and by definition of religious tolerance that their ideas are to be respected as part of the debate as long as their right is not infringing upon the rights of others. Their decision to pursue this fight through publishing their ideas and pursuing them through the political process is exactly what the early philosophers had in mind when discussing the social contract, religious tolerance and rights of individuals. I also remind you that I am not advocating the kind of deadly intolerance of Islamic fanatics where they threaten death to those that do not follow their narrow definition of life. They are violating the rights of people to remain alive by threatening death.


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