I tend to think you should tolerate someone who disagrees with your point of view if they are decent enough to tolerate you. If it weren’t for gentlemanly differences of opinion, America wouldn’t have a horseracing industry. What you don’t have to put up with is someone who is openly bigoted against you. If they hate you, you are under no obligation to tolerate them at all.
The Slate Star Codex Blog is an acquired taste. This is a polite way of saying that I’ve acquired it, but would understand it if others didn’t. However, I’ll say without equivocation that they’ve taken home the award for All-Time Great TL/DR Blog post with the entry “I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup” by Scott Alexander. In fact, I’d argue it takes that award home in a brown paper bag like a bottle of Scotch from the ABC. In it he explains why tolerance should be selectively applied to only those who disagree with us in a decent and respectful fashion.
Why would I rave about something that will kill a significant chunk of your evening to read? Simply because it brings the explanatory power the way an AH-64 Helicopter brings the Hellfire Missiles. It explains, for one thing, why Michael Tomasky can write the following and not have to do penance in the snow with a bag over his head.
With [mc_name name=’Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’L000550′ ]’s ignominious exit, the Democrats will have lost their last senator in the Deep South. And that’s a good thing. They should write it off—because they don’t need it.
Conservatives feel antipathetic towards Liberals. The average Liberal is morally offended by and wants Conservatives sent to a foreign country or shot at dawn. This we get partial statistical correlation in support of from a study conducted at Stanford University. In other words, Liberals *cheer* when Michael Tomasky whips The South.
Unlike race, gender and other social divides where group-related attitudes and behaviors are constrained by social norms (Maccoby and Maccoby 1954; Sigall and Page 1971; Himmelfarb and Lickteig 1982), there are no corresponding pressures to temper disapproval of political opponents. If anything, the rhetoric and actions of political leaders demonstrate that hostility directed at the opposition is acceptable, even appropriate. Partisans therefore feel free to express animus and engage in discriminatory behavior toward opposing partisans.
Scott Alexander offers us the following conjecture as to why.
And my hypothesis, stated plainly, is that if you’re part of the Blue Tribe, then your outgroup isn’t al-Qaeda, or Muslims, or blacks, or gays, or transpeople, or Jews, or atheists – it’s the Red Tribe.
Cass R. Sunstein offers an observation in support of this conclusion.
In 1960, 5 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats said that they would feel “displeased” if their son or daughter married outside their political party. By 2010, those numbers had reached 49 percent and 33 percent. Republicans have been found to like Democrats less than they like people on welfare or gays and lesbians. Democrats dislike Republicans more than they dislike big business
So if you read Tomasky, laughed and figured he had to be trolling us for sure, you’re entirely too nice for Post-modern America. Tomasky would look for irony in one of the metals sections of The Periodic Table. When he says “Trying to win Southern seats is not worth the ideological cost for Democrats,” he inverts the old dictum of Henry of Navarre. To him and his ilk Paris is not worth the mass. Agreeing with the stereotypical Southern straw man he writes about in his Opus Odium could quite possible infect him with hookworm.
He gussies this up with some whinging about Power Plants and Glass-Steagall; but at the end of the day, this man is simply an Anti-Southern, Anti-Conservative bigot. He’s Bull Connors with a different color-spectrum to his irrational hatred. He tells us how Louisiana has gleefully euthanized tolerance, compassion, civic decency, racial comity and he assures us the list goes on…
Ultimately, the question is this. Why should anyone to the Right of say Le Duc Tho tolerate Michael Tomasky? Tolerate this bigoted jerk, and he’ll be cracking jokes about your inbred family tree and your run-down double-wide. He’ll accuse you of thinking RC Colas and Moon Pies* are haute cuisine. He needs to go take his Starbucks Venti Condescension Frappe’ and…. OK, he can just leave. We Southerners appreciate the value of keeping it a family site.
But the point is simply this. People like Tomasky need to be publically ridiculed and shamed. Tolerance towards someone that filled with hate is for people who are masochistic enough to like being described as hicks, racists, pecker-woods and idiots. Saying “Bless Your Heart, Michael” wouldn’t work on someone whose outlook on life has ossified to the point where he is sarcasm-proof.
Now we all got raised being told tolerance is a virtue. Dealing with enough conceited rectal waste chutes like Michael Tomasky has lead me to realize that statement requires a certain degree of qualification. You have to be willing to get anything you tolerate. To paraphrase H. L. Menken: “You’ll get it good and hard.”
*-With Jolt Cola being out of business, he could accidentally have a point if you’re pulling an all-nighter.