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The limits of tolerance


The argument is, in brief, completely ignorant to what tolerance is and how it operates in a liberal society. This isn't the first time I've heard this argument. It is quite a common trope these days coming from people who think that liberals propose that we must be absolutely tolerant, including tolerant of intolerance. This simply is not the liberal position.

A tolerant society must have limits of tolerance. We cannot tolerate intolerance. The tolerant relationship must be explicitly reciprocal. That is, we will tolerate you so long as you tolerate us. As soon as you call for any part of "us" to not be tolerated, you will not be tolerated. We will respect your religious rights so long as you respect those of others. We will respect your freedom of speech so long as you respect that of others. When you call for others to have their religious rights limited, or the speech of others to be limited, you do not belong and will not be tolerated.

When The Drumpf calls for the expulsion of undocumented migrants or blockade of Muslims, he is being intolerant and deserves tomust be rejected by the tolerant society. Tolerance only works when it is fully reciprocal.

As individual Muslims are intolerant, we are right to reject them. As individual Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Republicans are intolerant, we must be intolerant of their intolerance.

Violence, in defense of a breach of reciprocal intolerance has a place. It should be state sanctioned violence by the proper authority for committing violence (i.e. the police). It should not be mob violence. But protesting intolerance in the defense of tolerance is not self-refeferentially incoherent, no matter what those on the right may think.