Discussion Part I: Tolerance

Is tolerance truly the best method of dealing with others? Can tolerance go too far? Could “tolerance” be used as a tool to override ideology that isn’t popular or “current”?

Remember the quote from yesterday’s aside, from C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity. Lewis writes:

“The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs.”

In the context of his writing, Lewis is discussing the idea of a Moral Law, that everyone knows it but can still choose to act contrary to it. He explains that not all of our impulses are bad, but are appropriate at certain times, rather than at others. It is in this context that he writes the above.

Tolerance is something that bothers me, something that–if I speak out against it–I am labeled a fanatic, a fool, and close-minded. Should there be a limit to tolerance? And if so, where do we draw the line? There will be three parts to this discussion, and (as always) comments are welcome.

As I mentioned, there is a widely accepted “tolerance” of others here in Bloomington. What with students pouring in from other nations, we can hardly expect to be belligerently opposed to strangers. However, it bothers me that “tolerance”–as it has come to mean, here on campus–is shockingly close-minded.

It is common on campus to see sidewalk chalk and wall art promoting a group or event. According to the University, the students have a right to do this. So, what happens when a purportedly racist group decides to put up an advertisement as well?

Water. Paint.

The chalk advertisements were watered down to blotches, and different paint was spread on top of the wall advertisement to cover it up. I walk the main road in campus to catch a bus, so I saw that–for several days–the group tried to advertise and they were quickly blotted out. Soon, the critics (for lack of a better moniker) began painting their anti- messages into the ground surrounding the walls, and they had stencils of fists, with the title “Students Against Intolerance”.

Now, before anyone freaks out, I would like to say that I generally agree with the critics. I believe the group is truly racist, and do not support them. However, is it tolerant of the critics to accept so many different things–except one? Do they truly have the authority to decide who is intolerant?

Think about it.

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