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The twisting of tolerance

One of the interesting points made in one of Greg’s talks was how he described the change in the definition of tolerance.

Now, I don’t think it comes as a shock to many that what is often espoused as tolerance today is a far cry from what we originally thought the word meant. Tolerance used to be that I could openly disagree with you, but still treat you with respect. Now it seems to mean I must not disagree with you at all.

However, the interesting thing that Greg pointed out was how this new definition was effectively a reversal of the original definition; turning the meaning on its head.

The original definition of tolerance would mean that I should:

  1. be respectful and accepting of all men regardless of the beliefs they hold
  2. be selective of which beliefs to accept

Now, the inverse is true. This new “tolerance” has morphed into saying I should:

  1. be respectful and accepting of all beliefs
  2. be selective of which men to accept based on the beliefs they hold

I found that stating the “twisting of tolerance” in this way helped me think about the issue in a new way.

The original definition holds men in higher regard than ideas, the new one values ideas more than men.

p.s. As I’m not much of a note taker, in this and other posts related to Greg’s talks, I am operating pretty much from memory … if I am misrepresenting anything or get any facts wrong, please let me know!