Should we tolerate the intolerant?

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While on Facebook, I noticed a friend of mine posted up a story at the request of another friend of hers:

“Bangladesh…. (a friend of mine live in this country and he told me to share it)

A country that contain allmost 90% of muslims.
It got independence in 1971.
After 40 years of freedom fight, our government has started so called judgement of war criminals to make weaker the opposition party.
But their purpose was clear to the ordinary people.
That is why they established a so called mass awerness stage.

It was secretly run by the Government to cover their crime like Sagor-Runi homicide, BDR killing in Pilkhana, Hallmark corruption, Padma bridge corruption and so many failure due to their time.

This mass awereness stage was leaded by some atheists.
It was not a problem.
But the problem was this atheists were making bad comments about Allah and his prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SM) and always try to rebuke Islam.
That hurted the religious feelings of our God frearing people.
A non-political party named " Hefajot e Islam" were protesting against this atheist and tell the government to stop this stage and claimed to the government to take steps against them.
But Government didn’t heed to them.
In order to fulfill their deamands, Hefajot e Islam started meeting, combinations in various districts of Bangladesh from 4th march.They ran their every proggramme peacefully.
05-05-2013, Hefajot e Islam called for a combination at Moti jheel Shapla Chattor in capital Dhaka city.
They proclaimed that, they won’t leave this place until government fulfill their demands.
They were about 10 lakhs in number.
Last night.
By the direction of our Government. Police,RAB, BGB and so many terrorist of present government (AWAMI LEAGUE) attacked them with arms.
People of Hefajot e Islam were tottaly armless.
They tried hard to resist.
But terrorists and police force used thousands of tear shell,lakhs of bullets, rubber bullets and about 3500 sound grenades and riot car.
They cut the line of electricity and and continued their brutality in darkness.
They continued their operation from 9 pm to 5 am.
That is why Hefajot e Islam were obliged to leave the place.
In this war of armed government and non armed Hefajot e Islam,
More than two Thousands of people has been killed of Hefajot e Islam.
And so many people has been injured. Police and other force beaten them up so much. And most of dead bodies has been carried of and kept concealed.
It accros all the brutality.
People of Bangladesh never seen this kind of brutality after 1971.
Government has taken the control of all media of our country.
They aren’t publishing the actual news.
Impartial news paper “Amar Desh” and tv chanel “Digonto” has been banned by government so that people can not know the actual news.

In this circumstance, we need the solidarity of outer world.
Please, save us from this aggresive Government.
Please save us.
Or there is waiting more suffering for us.
Please
- Republic of Bangladesh"

When I looked for more information about this, what I found was the complete opposite. Over 100,000 protesters took to the streets chanting the phrase, “One point, One demand: Atheists must be hanged.” blocking highways and demanding that the secular government of Bangladesh impose stronger penalties for insults toward Islam. This was in response to a few atheist bloggers whom the protesters felt attacked Islam and its beliefs.

As for the statistics and claims from the Facebook post about the Bangladesh government killing over two thousand people in the name of Islam, I have not found any articles verifying it. If anyone would like to provide a reliable source vouching that, that’d be great.

Now, as a disclaimer, I have no argument with the religion of Islam, but I do have an issue when human lives are threatened and taken for things like personal beliefs. That leads me to the topic of this discussion.

Broadening the topic, regardless of race, sex, religion, etc. should we as human beings tolerate those who are extremely intolerant?

 
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Heh, I had a similar first impression. Repressive mono-dominant censorship advocates attacked by police? Sheesh, wish that would happen here. I mean… not really… but heck, hard to sympathize with these people.

As for tolerance of the intolerant? Oh, absolutely. Grace is a virtue after all. My problem is when intolerance escalates into actual repression. Say, the changing of laws, or physical attacks and harassment. In such cases I can’t advocate tolerance. The spectrum of resistance depends on course of the event in question. But words and ideas are simply that, no harm in and of themselves.

It is the villains of the story here that are trying to control free expression. Not tolerating their opinion, would be simply hypocritical. Now should we tolerate loiterers, rabble rousers, rioters?

 
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Even in a relatively backward Islamic country, 100,000 peoiple all screaming death to anyone who does not share their faith/beliefs/superstitions seems a little excessive. It leaves me wondering whether those who wish to protest about the war crimes trials and the disgraceful state of the Bangladeshi garment industry also had a hand in these riots.

As for the final question, I’m not sure whether to feel jubilant or ashamed at invoking Mr. Godwin so early in the discussion, but Hitler’s Nazi party is a fair example of why extreme intolerance should not be tolerated. IMO the right of free speech needs to have certain limits set so that everyone gets the chance to express their views without endangering others.

 
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Ideally it’d be nice to say yes, we should tolerate everyone. But things just don’t work that way, because viewpoints and actions can cause harm. There has to be a limit, one of those ever-moving lines in the sand that at some point we as individuals/groups have to decide that some person, group or whatever has crossed.

Side note… ever notice that those who shout the loudest about wanting tolerance and equality and harmony tend to be the first to refuse to tolerate of the opinions of others?

 
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Simple answer: No, we do not tolerate the intolerant. It’s their fault for being that way.

 
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There’s a difference having your feelings hurt or being offended and causing legit harm to another person. I am a firm believer that the marketplace of ideas largely squashes intolerant bigots (and repressing said bigots often does more harm than good). I have no problem tolerating people like Jeremiah Wright just as he should tolerate my belief that he is a racist asshole. It’s when it moves beyond simply being verbal when the intolerance needs to be addressed.

 
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Yes.
If you got the time, that is.

 
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When a dog has bitten you, do you bite the dog back?

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No. But you hit it real hard. And possibly go to a hospital and request the dog to be humanely slaughtered. If the fight fails, you are going to bleed badly and possibly become Pedigree. As for the intolerant, you must fight them when they attack you. If they get the upper hand, you may become another Niemoeller.

However, when a dog barks at you, you don’t need to bark back at it. As a human, act like one.

 
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D.A. Carson wrote a book on this sort of, the main points are summed up here. One of his main points is that a healthy tolerance should accept and even fight for the right to exist of other ideas and other actions etc. but that it can still vehemently disagree with them. An unhealthy tolerance holds that all ideas and actions etc. should be viewed as equal. And of course he admits that a line must be drawn somewhere – there are some things that are so reprehensible that we cannot tolerate them at all.

 
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Hitler’s Nazi party is a fair example of why extreme intolerance should not be tolerated. IMO the right of free speech needs to have certain limits set so that everyone gets the chance to express their views without endangering others.

I still disagree with you there. I think the real problem is empowering and tolerating violence, rather then stifling incendiary views. But really, I don’t feel it is fair to call the party line statements of the nazi party ‘incendiary’ or even contentious of the standards of free speech; at the time. Anti Semitism was wide spread and popular, from Europe to the Middle East, to the America’s. Freedom of speech as a right finds it’s truest expression in unpopular statements – those things which are resisted, buckled against, where people desire to repress the speech. But, was that really the circumstances of the nazi party? They exploited popular discontent against an inpopular minority, to, general great appeal. The measure of freedom speech is not in allowing that – but in allowing the voice to the contrary. Something that the nazi party ruthlessly crushed.

Also post 3? Post 3? Good job Beau :P

I am a firm believer that the marketplace of ideas largely squashes intolerant bigots (and repressing said bigots often does more harm than good).

I agree. This gets into murky, often unpopular grounds, along Neitzschean power and morality. But I believe in the long run, Good is Powerful, and ultimately Power is Good. That which brings success, brings power, brings choice, is good. Bad things are inherently self destructive, it is that nature that marks them as bad. So, yes, we have nothing to fear in bad ideology standing toe to toe with good idealogy. One will breed it’s own demise, and the other it’s own success.

 
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I agree. This gets into murky, often unpopular grounds, along Neitzschean power and morality. But I believe in the long run, Good is Powerful, and ultimately Power is Good. That which brings success, brings power, brings choice, is good. Bad things are inherently self destructive, it is that nature that marks them as bad. So, yes, we have nothing to fear in bad ideology standing toe to toe with good idealogy. One will breed it’s own demise, and the other it’s own success.

Absolutely it gets murky, especially when the intolerance has a chance to threaten public safety. Perhaps the best example of this murkiness in the States was National Socialist Party V. Skokie. The court ruled (the decision is still debated amongst legal scholars) that they could march in Skokie. The Socialists never did in fact rally – which probably for the best as the Holocaust survivors would very likely not have watched peacefully.

Even setting a standard of “as long as public order isn’t disturbed” quota for tolerable intolerance is a sketchy standard because you allow the public to mute potentially volatile speech simply because they disagree with it, which is a really terrible standard to go down. Governments should do everything in their power to allow any and all speech while at the same time doing what they can to protect the speaker(s) and the public order.

 
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My local neck of the woods did a pretty fair example of that, to their credit. There was some musing on allowing religious/cultural attire to mask the face in official provincial identification stuff. The local White Power group (mostly dumb, young, grumpy punkers, with some more old guard backers.) arranged and advertised an official protest around city hall. Ultimately, I agreed with their position in this regard, and expected a shit show, so I showed up on the sidelines to spectate. They mostly all wore balaclava’s, bandied about signs and slogans, and argued that they should therefor be allowed to wear their balaclava’s in their ID. Variously identified in the local media as “White Power”, “Neo Nazi’s” and “Racist Skinheads” holding some sort of rally there was a fair amount of other people up against their line expressing their general disapproval and opposing view. The police were on scene monitoring, and for a little while everything was relatively groovy.

Then the SHARP’s (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) and similar groups showed up, who were all generally young grumpy punkers too. Things got physical pretty fast. My interpretation of it, and most of those I talked to, is that the counter protestors started and perpetuated the violence. As things broke down the police rushed in, and were well received, with the counter protestors mostly just throwing things around them. They hustled the white power group into vehicles and drove off. A number of people I spoke to were pretty critical of the police ‘rescuing nazi’s’ from their just desserts.

Anywho. It was a strange bit, but ultimately I think it was a pretty good example of how smoothly things can run in even pretty troubled circumstances.

 
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Of course we should tolerate the intolerant. Why not?

 
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Originally posted by Ninjitsu_Pirate:

Of course we should tolerate the intolerant. Why not?

Please try to add something to the discussions on the SD forums, instead of these useless posts. Thank you.


until a certain degree, we should tolerate them. However, if they threaten public safety and preach hate, racism or anything else, they hould be immediately removed. We have had radical muslims protest for their sharia law to be started here in the EU. Even though it went against everyones common sense, it was still allowed. A few weeks later, it appeared their group, had made terrorist plans to bomb several targets. It was a very easily used argument: I told you! They were up to nothing good. But even in such a case, it should still have been allowed.

 
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So, to some up what seems to be the general viewpoint of this threa: Should we tolerate the intolerant? Yes… At least, for as long as they dont appeal to outright violence, that is…

 
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I checked just to make sure…

No one in this thread has actually come up with a practical definition for ‘tolerance’. Most people seem to be following the Lockean idea that tolerance is simply the freedom from the threat of punitive retribution for something said or done. What I find curious is how unworkable this idea is when you take it away from the textbook religious violence / skinhead examples, and bring it somewhere a bit closer to our vested interests: tolerance on the internet. We very plainly don’t permit people to say whatever they like on a forum like this, even if they pose no apparent ‘threat’. In fact, the only ‘threat’ tends to be in the form of exaggerated slights to our norms. A perfect example is in this thread…

Originally posted by Wave_Rida:
Originally posted by Ninjitsu_Pirate:

Of course we should tolerate the intolerant. Why not?

Please try to add something to the discussions on the SD forums, instead of these useless posts. Thank you.

Pretty sure he doesn’t need to write an essay to have an opinion, bud (unlike some of us). But you certainly added something useful to reinforce my point, so thanks.

There’s plenty of examples of non-violent intolerance and outright bigotry just right here in SD. Those who do this are swiftly tarred and feathered by the more, shall we say, aggrieved posters, or get outright silenced by the capricious mods. Now, I don’t have any axes to grind here, but I think before we drag out the hoi polloi of “of course we’re tolerant to the intolerant!” on the macro level, we might take a good look at the micro level, which is to say, the very place we are having this discussion.

Oh, one other thing. It strikes me that our relative internet tolerance depends largely on our appreciation or conversely disapproval for superficial personality-based or ideological trappings, which is to say that a conservative poster with a track record for spouting intolerant blather, nattering on about those muslim crazies, will be quickly booed and shouted down, while a more liberal, self-effacing poster can go as far as implying a comparison with them to nazis without earning as much as a blink from other posters. I feel I’m actually a particularly good example of this, since I’ve said plenty of things that earned newer posters a permaban, with nothing worse than a 24hour ban, for no other reason I can guess other than I’ve been around awhile and say lots of clever things otherwise. Not exactly the most logical rationale for tolerance.

 
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Nothing wrong with a lil’ argumentum ad hitlerum, Jantonaitis. ;) I’m being facetious

 
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The comparison between Bangladeshi zealots and Hitler was, believe it or not, not intended to be quite as direct as it turned out. I was really rather more interested in hearing whether Kakkowhats’isface had anything to say about the other protests going on in Bangladesh, but as usual I was disappointed.

But having said that, for the moment at least, I will stand by the comparison. Your face doesn’t fit, so it’s off to the death camps/gallows for you, matey. Yeah, I think there are definite similarities there.

 
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I figured as much. Still, in another poster’s hands, that comment would’ve turned incendiary fast.

 
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tolerance on the internet. We very plainly don’t permit people to say whatever they like on a forum like this, even if they pose no apparent ‘threat’. In fact, the only ‘threat’ tends to be in the form of exaggerated slights to our norms. A perfect example is in this thread…

The internet is weird territory though. Power, presence, territory, it’s all pretty infinite. I have a far easier time controlling certain expectations when I feel there are legitimate alternatives readily available. If only we could Exile people to some other more suitable country so readily in the real world.

Although, really, for the most part we let people say a great deal. And I’m generally trying to push the boundaries a little further. The onyl thing that irks me is large pictures (interesting real life comparison, but gets into the economics of public/private space) and just literal, pointless, drivel.

 
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No.

 
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I want to weigh in,,,
but, what I would say has already been well done.
Basically, several of ya have presented (I’ll quote ya below) concepts on this issue that I believe fit my usual “bell-curve” & situational-events applications for explanations of why, what, who, when, where and probably the greatest—WHY. The point at which tolerance turns to intolerance of the intolerant isn’t on-off. There are a very large amount of gray areas inbetween.

Originally posted by Ungeziefer:

My problem is when intolerance escalates into actual repression. Say, the changing of laws, or physical attacks and harassment. In such cases I can’t advocate tolerance. The spectrum [bell-curve?]of resistance depends on course [situational?] of the event in question. But words and ideas are simply that, no harm in and of themselves.

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Originally posted by beauval:

….extreme intolerance should not be tolerated. IMO the right of free speech needs to have certain limits set so that everyone gets the chance to express their views without endangering others.

I add that—IN SOME AREAS—rather than limits, extensions need be considered, too. I say this because of the voices of minor candidates for political offices not being heard because of mostly money. But, for something like politics, media outlets should have some form where these ideas can be heard….at least once. Thank God for the Internet.
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Originally posted by NeilSenna:

Ideally it’d be nice to say yes, we should tolerate everyone. But things just don’t work that way, because viewpoints and actions can cause harm. There has to be a limit, one of those ever-moving lines in the sand that at some point we as individuals/groups have to decide that some person, group or whatever has crossed.


Side note… ever notice that those who shout the loudest about wanting tolerance and equality and harmony tend to be the first to refuse to tolerate of the opinions of others?

I really like that: ever-moving lines in the sand….that get crossed.
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Originally posted by issendorf:

There’s a difference having your feelings hurt or being offended and causing legit harm to another person. I am a firm believer that the marketplace of ideas largely squashes intolerant bigots (and repressing said bigots often does more harm than good). It’s when it moves beyond simply being verbal when the intolerance needs to be addressed.

Without having counterpoints heard, we are left w/ the abject task of self-assessment & critique… which usually is rife w/ bias that causes failure to see the weak & bad points in our stances.

If our position is as solid as we deem it to be, hearing criticism of it should do it no harm.

Finally:
HolyLasagna’s quote: The Paradox of Tolerance.
Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant well be destroyed, and tolerance with them.

We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant [beyond specific points].

All of the above ppl’s ideas on this subject—and esp. that of Karl Popper—has rendered me to be able to contribute this one line to this discussion.

Tolerating others ideology should cease when it starts to become surrendering of your own.

 
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Tolerating others ideology should cease when it starts to become surrendering of your own.

K, just as a disclaimer, this is a serious question:

What if you have no ideology?

An ideology isn’t just a POV or even a ‘worldview’. It’s a thought-system with its own internal logic. It also has a discrete set of rules or proscriptions on behavior. Most importantly it has defense mechanisms embedded within to root out or suppress dissenting ideas. People who belong to religions or political parties follow (in theory) the ideology of the group they’re in.

Now my point here is that this idea that we shouldn’t ‘surrender’ our own ideologies on the altar of tolerating others has one big problem – it shifts the concept of a free flow of ideas and argument into, essentially, a war of ideologues. So for example, you’re a liberal and I’m a conservative and we argue around a particular issue, like gun control. So as members of different ideologies, what do we gain from this argument? Well, at best we gain insight into how the opposing side argues, what sort of buzzwords or talking points they use, etc. Basic rhetoric stuff. However, we don’t really learn anything about the other perspective, except how to beat it. We certainly don’t accept that hey, that guy might have a point, maybe my ideology isn’t 100% correct, because as I say, belonging to an ideology (of ANY kind) brings with it a certain inflexibility of thought that isn’t open to new ideas if they contradict accepted notions.

EDIT: It does happen, of course, that people of a certain ideology come to accept an aspect from an opposing one; the problem becomes, however, that because they have an ideological frameset already ordering their thoughts, they may become disillusioned with their old ideology only to abandon it for the new one – they get converted. I see this alot in the israel/palestine debate among people who aren’t personally invested in the conflict…if you have no actual ties to what happens on the ground, only the ideas that make it up, then it’s a lot easier to jump ship when presented with a compelling counter-argument. As I say though, rather than the contrary argument or idea freeing them from their ideological constraints, it often seems to just push them into accepting a different sort of dogma, often the one most antagonistic to their old ideology (especially in cases where their ideology is inherited, like a family religion or political stance). Or they just become apathetic and ignore the debate altogether. /end EDIT

Now, in contrast, suppose I simply lean towards looser gun control and you lean towards stronger gun control, but neither of us have made up our minds entirely on the subject. We don’t put ourselves in one ideological camp. What happens then is that we argue, and learn from each other, without relying on accepted notions to shield us from the other person’s perspective. We also might jump around a lot from different points, or appear to be contradictory in our support for one aspect but disagreeing with another. It’s more messy but IMO it’s more fruitful.

That’s why I don’t agree with this idea of not ‘surrendering’. Arguments resemble warfare too much as it is. I’ve never seen much value in being locked into a position. Of course there’s a tendency to gravitate towards a certain view, but allowing yourself to become too attached to one side or another is IMO a form of intellectual laziness – I’d much rather fight against THAT than x ideology.

 
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It depends on how intolerant some people are.

 
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Personally I think the whole tolerance vs intolerance thing is stupid. When you label someone “intolerant” you are just calling them a name and contributing absolutely nothing to society. We are all tolerant and intolerant. For example we are all, for the most part, tolerant of acts of charity, the virtues of kindness, love, loyalty, tolerant of ourselves and our loved ones. For the most part we are intolerant of child molestation, abuse of the poor and needy, crimes against us or our loved ones, virtues such as hate, crime, and cruelty.

Applying the law of non contradiction, it makes no sense and is logically contradictory to be intolerant towards intolerance. By definition you are exemplifying the very action that you wish to cease, and thus expanding and prolonging it. It is as logically absurd as hating hate.

What makes a person intolerant? The fact that they think their perspective right and yours is wrong? But by calling them intolerant aren’t you implying that their perspective is wrong and yours is right? doesn’t that make you the intolerant one?

The bottom line is that if society hopes to make intellectual gains, spiritual gains, emotional gains, and increase the quality of life for humanity, we need to stop playing this dumb tolerance game and hold views based on their merit and not who it offends.

PS: I’m a minority in ethnicity, religion, and several other areas and know what it is like to be discriminated against first hand. So please don’t pull out the “You are saying that because you don’t know what it’s like!” argument.