So there was this anti-bullying speaker doing what he does at a national journalism conference for high school students. The speaker in question was a man by the name of Dan Savage, journalist, author, activist, and founder of the “it gets better project” an anti-bullying movement. So here is this guy, who goes on a bit of a rant at this conference, something off topic those at the conference were not expecting. Not a couple one liners, but a full-out tirade. Some students get up to leave as they felt offended by the remarks of the speaker and his tone. They were under the impression that the speech was going to be something else entirely. So, okay, they leave no big deal. Oh, wait, here is the big deal. As the roughly hundred students left the auditorium the anti-bullying speaker called them names like “pansy asses” and become openly hostile to those who no longer wanted to listen to him. The anti-bullying speaker engaged in bullying behavior during an anti-bullying speech in front of over one thousand youth. Are you kidding me? Do you know why they left and what he was talking about? Does it matter? The answer to both questions is the same, No.
Tolerance is a street that is supposed to go both ways, not simply one group accepting the beliefs and dictates of another group. Being intolerant of someone you don’t think is listening to you isn’t showing tolerance. Too often tolerance is treated as a one way path of communication for the “enlightened” to tell the “unenlightened” what they should think about certain things and how they should become accepting. I don’t care whether the group is for, multiculturalism, LGBT, abortion, gun control, hunting, abstinence, christianity, global warming, global cooling, wind energy, fossil fuels, teachers, condoms, euthanasia, marriage, divorce, or partially hydrogenated soybean oil. (by the way, I love that stuff, everything that has it tastes soooo good). A position you firmly believe in is not something to be pushed on others, the way exists for open communication and frank discussion and at the end of the day civilized people should be allowed to respectfully disagree. I disagree with positions people take all the time, that doesn’t mean I name call and heckle when I get the chance. That is not what tolerance is about and too many extremists to the left and to the right of the issues mistake tolerance for acceptance and mistake disagreement for intolerance.
You see there are those who define tolerance as the act of listening to something someone better than you tells you how you should feel about something and then you change your whole outlook on that thing and whole heartedly embrace it, spreading the good word to others and lamenting to your everlasting shame for having thought about something the wrong way. Again this is topic independent. However, that is not tolerance, that is acceptance or more likely conversion. If someone wants to say, you need to be accepting of what I say, I could live with that over the tolerance thing. Because tolerance is just the opposite. Tolerance means I have listened to the crap that has come out of your mouth and even though I want to punch you in the face or set something random on fire I don’t because that wouldn’t be tolerant. I will disagree with you, but I will not attack you for it. You know what I mean, there is always that person you have sat next to and you thought, I am going to kill this person if they say one more thing, that would be intolerance. But you don’t, congratulations you’ve just tolerated someone even if you disagree or dislike them. tah-dah.
The funny thing is the last time I made an argument like this I was called intolerant. HAHAHAHAHA, okay whatever. Look it up, you don’t work for tolerance if you’re seeking acceptance just like you don’t advocate an anti-bullying stance when you bully a bunch of children.