Tolerating All The Tolerance

In recent weeks we have been subjected to lectures on tolerance.  Apparently the most tolerant society in the world is not quite tolerant enough for all those tolerant people  who consider themselves supremely tolerant and they will not tolerate the intolerance of those small minded intolerant people who don’t see the world the way they do…. Or something like that.

Whether you believe the mosque should be built where the landing gear of the airplanes that struck the twin towers landed or not, is not what I am referring to, but rather, whether Americans are tolerant enough.  I keep seeing the brilliant elite on television lecturing about tolerance and the more I listen the more confused I become.  Thus, I went to dictionary.com for some clarification.  This is what I found;

Tolerance:  (noun) a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

Okay, fair enough.  I think most of us can grasp the concept and agree that America is a very tolerant country.  Especially when you consider other countries in the world such as, oh I don’t know, let’s say Saudi Arabia where currently it is illegal to build a church, synagogue or temple and it is also forbidden to import copies of the Bible or Torah.  Why yes, it is fair to say America is much more tolerant. 

Some of the quotes I have read throughout the debate have really bordered on being sanctimonious.  According to Keith Burris in the Register Citizen, “our highest value is tolerance”.  Wow, that is a mighty sweeping statement.  I would have thought the value of human life would rank a bit higher, but apparently not.  Tolerance is the highest value.

But then when I see those people who passionately feel the mosque should be built elsewhere, I get very confused.  Because these people are saying, that while they agree it is perfectly within the rights of the developers of the mosque to build where ever they wish to, they feel it is not appropriate to build there.  Ah, so this is where the confusion comes into play.  If the people opposed to building a mosque near ground zero are being intolerant, are not the supporters of the mosque also being intolerant?  By saying that opposing the construction of the mosque is being intolerant, they are being intolerant of the differing opinions of those opposed to construction.  Geez, are you with me on this?  So how can there be tolerance for one side without intolerance for the other?

My favorite quote comes from Renee Antonelli Valente in the CliffviewPilot.com.  Renee states “But please, in the name of tolerance, let’s remember that by its very definition, tolerance is not intended to be selective.”  

WHAT???  This is where I get tripped up with this tolerance talk.  Of course tolerance is intended to be selective!!!  That is why there are certain things we will tolerate and certain things we won’t.  That is where the entire concept of ZERO TOLERANCE comes from.  Good grief, these self righteous tolerant people are perplexing.  

Let’s face it there are certain things that are intolerable.  Things such as beheadings, suicide bombers, stoning, and the complete subjugation of women are just a few intolerable things that come to mind. 

So, I guess what I am trying to figure out is whether I am tolerant enough of all these tolerant people.  Quite honestly, if I happen to have a differing opinion on a hot topic such as gay marriage, abortion or amnesty for illegal aliens, I wonder would these incredibly tolerant people tolerate me and my opinion or would I be subjected to ad homonym attacks?  Or by virtue of my differing opinion, would I then become the intolerant one?  Just curious. 

An even bigger question in this entire discussion of tolerance is what ever happened to common decency?  We all have certain rights in this country that we often choose not to exercise.  In a large melting pot country such as America, not only is it necessary to be tolerant of those who are different, we also have responsibilities as citizens.  Sometimes, just because we have the right doesn’t make it right.  Sometimes we must make decisions based upon the consideration of others and how it will make them feel.  It is the tolerant thing to do.