ethics philosophy politics

the abc’s of tolerance


The topic of tolerance came up in the comments of my last post, so I thought I’d re-post them here to offer a focussed discussion of them…

This t-word is used in interesting ways. I think it’s used far too loosely. You tolerate things (certain actions or persons whose identity is defined by those same actions) which you don’t agree with or like. If you agree with and/or like some action (or person affiliated with it), then you –by definition, I insist– cannot ‘tolerate’ it. Therefore, it should be obvious that you can only ‘tolerate’ things (or persons) which you disagree with or don’t like.

Sometimes the word is used improperly and/or in the wrong contexts. I’ve heard people say, “Anyone who thinks ____ is wrong is intolerant.” That is not true. Simply to think something is wrong is neither tolerant nor intolerant. It is how you act (or don’t act) that shows whether you are tolerant or not. For example, if you don’t like or disagree with action ‘x’, but don’t bother to say so or do anything about it, that is a toleration of action ‘x’. If you don’t like or disagree with action ‘x’, and do bother to say or do something about it, that is to not tolerate it.

When logically considered, there are, I suggest, only three possible ways to respond (emotionally, mentally, physically and more) to certain practices of others. Not only are these the only logically possible options, I also suggest we each respond using all three of them… Here they are…

A. You agree with or like the action, so you –by definition– cannot be ‘tolerant’ or ‘intolerant’ of it. How miserable your existence would be if you disagreed with every action of everyone! We all have many, many actions of others with which we unhesitatingly agree…

B. You disagree with or don’t like the action, however you choose to be ‘tolerant’ of it. We do this more often than we may realise. Any time you are annoyed or frustrated by an action, but determine that it’s not worth getting too upset over, you are ‘tolerating’ the action.

C. You disagree with or don’t like the action, and you choose not to tolerate it. We westerners are often uncomfortable with this one. We’ve been told again and again how important individual rights are, so for me not to tolerate someone’s actions is to (at least in principle) infringe on their individual rights. But there are still certain actions which none of us would –or at least should!– tolerate (i.e. – theft, murder, abuse, etc.).

In diagramatic form, this understanding would look like this:

tolerate chart

So there you have it. Please offer feedback if you have any.

23 replies on “the abc’s of tolerance”

Dale, shouldn’t that diagram be more like:

->|- Agree
->|- Disagree
—->|- Action
——–>|- Tolerate
——–>|- Do not tolerate

(moderators note: Hi Damian, I’ve tried to edit your comment to reflect what you were trying to say, let me know if it’s helpful…)

(Just nitpicking).

Oh, and take a moment to visit incogman’s most interesting blog. ;)


Found your blog hard to tolerate incogman

Truth is a hard thing to listen to:

“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” – Galatians 4:16

Thanks for stopping by. I had a quick browse of your blog. Good on you for touching hot-potatoes. I’m interested, though, obviously the ‘diversity’ you are criticizing is not the diversity which God created?

I tried to correct your suggestion in your comment…
I’m not convinced, but interested in your suggestion. What I would say is that since it is a diagram about the toleration of an action, we start with that action (at the ‘top’) and then work downward with how we react to the action (first in agreement or not, second in toleration or not)…

If it were a diagram about our opinion(s), we could start with opinions and then see how they work out in relation to actions, etc. But this post was about tolerance of ‘actions’… Make sense? Do push back if I’ve not understood… Cheers,


Your post for today has stuff like “There’s a lot of white race traitors at the top…We’re all Niggers to these kinds of people. And that’s fact, Jack”

The only fact is that the main difference between whites and blacks is melanin, a pigment produced from tyrosine by the enzyme tyrosinase, that gives colour to the skin. The rest is mostly the environment and maybe you should spend a bit of time thinking how that might be ‘inferior’ and why.

Dale, yes its interesting that ‘intolerance’ has become a bit of a ‘bad’ word but I don’t think there is an expectation for people to tolerate things that harm others such as the examples of abuse, theft you gave. I think there is a bit of an idea that “well if its not harming anyone else, each to their own.”
I know for me that I sometimes tolerate things for the wrong reasons though – because I’m too lazy to be bothered putting all that energy in or I’m scared of being disliked or even attacked, or I selfishly think its not my problem/responsibility to make a better community. I think you have to be careful too about how you go about ‘not tolerating’ something – what do you do? Do I just avoid ever going back to incogman’s blog or should I engage in arguments with him, send out warnings to all my friends, write to WordPress, make complaints… I know already I’ll take the easy option.

Thanks Damian,

Of course, a diagram about how opinion works would be just as ‘right’ as my one about tolerance…

(that’s my way of saying your suggestion wasn’t ‘wrong’…) :)


Thoughtful stuff…
Indeed, the whole ‘to each their own’ philosophy is surely more indicative of western hyper-individualism than the reality that we do affect one another and are responsible both for and to one another.
And yes, we could add another level to that diagram (your turn Damian? :) ). We could chart different ways of ‘tolerating’ (i.e. enduring it, avoiding repeated instances, escaping) and also different ways of ‘not tolerating’ (i.e. anything from kindly entering into conversation {like asking noisy kids to hush at a movie theatre} to ‘ethical violence’ {i.e. Bonhoeffer’s involvement in the Hitler assassination plot – as discussed, for example, in my earlier post by that name})… The ethical response, I suggest, depends on the circumstances and the likely consequences and their degree of urgency…

Your final comment about how to ‘not tolerate’ incogman’s blog raises at least one struggle we have in the modern world. Our awareness of all kinds of things happening that we don’t like all around the world… it can drive us to apathy and inaction. And our frustration is based on truth. I alone cannot argue-with and ‘fix’ all the errant bloggers in the world. Still less, can I alone (or the human race for that matter) fix the problem of human violence (i.e. the various violent regimes existing even today in our world with such advanced technology)… I can’t change things, we conclude. It’s hard to maintain any kind of idealism. This is a tough one…

(Of course, I’m not suggesting you commit to reading and ‘righting’ incogman’s blog…) ;)

Don’t worry I wasn’t about to, cos I’ve become somewhat less idealistic with age. At the college I teach at there is a teacher (older than me I might add) who sits every week with a group of girls in a club she has set up to encourage students to care for those less fortunate in the world. Every Friday they each write and send a letter to Winston Peters asking for action on various international issues. He has rung the school on two occasions and said these piles of letters must stop. They still write the letters every week, and the teacher has done this with girls for years undeterred by the seeming lack of effect. I don’t know whether to feel inspired or saddened.


Your post for today has stuff like “There’s a lot of white race traitors at the top…We’re all Niggers to these kinds of people. And that’s fact, Jack”
The only fact is that the main difference between whites and blacks is melanin, a pigment produced from tyrosine by the enzyme tyrosinase, that gives colour to the skin. The rest is mostly the environment and maybe you should spend a bit of time thinking how that might be ‘inferior’ and why.

I believe the whole point of the article was missed by you in your blind adherance to liberal beliefs.
This amply proves what my entire blog has to say about the whole thing: That true evil has used American altruistic wishes and hopes against their very selves.
Sad. Very sad. Soon it will be too late.

I sometimes wonder if people like Incogman end up where they are because abrasive opinions get them more conversation than their personalities would otherwise garner.

My remedy? Ignore.

I sometimes wonder if people like Incogman end up where they are because abrasive opinions get them more conversation than their personalities would otherwise garner.

My remedy? Ignore.

I never wonder why America gets precisely what it wants, anymore. Look at the current politics. Here we had a perfectly good person, well-versed about the real problems facing this country and the media quite blatantly marginalized him. Instead, we have candidates that fully toe the pro-Zionist line. Americans will never get real change and your atitude of arrogant dismissal will one day haunt you when the real deal is readily apparent. Your children will pay for that and even probably yourself.

Could it be said that incogman has introduced some colour into the somewhat nambie, pambie blogscene, where people seem to bend over backwards to agree or just plain ignore comments?
Hey guys, the topic, the topic . . .

I am talking about the dam topic! “Toleration” is PC Mumbo-Jumbo introduced by the Jewish Supremacists and the Globalist Zionist to divide and distract the white silent majority of America.

And it’s par for the course for the above cartoonist to use a obvious Muslim sword-wielder. These same people also brought us “Islamo-Fascism” in a transparent attempt for America to attack the enemies of someone else’s religion.

In short: That’s EVIL.

I call on the true Christians who read this to think long and hard about the whole matter and just who the people are behind it. I don’t ask you to blindly hate but I do ask you to look into it. And not to follow the PC line and reject me out of ridicule — another form of shutting up the truth.

Hope is a precious thing. Not to be held presumptuously, not to be trampled under foot… I ‘hope’ you can feel inspired by those actions! :)

True, we cannot argue with statistics. Blacks (in the US) have indeed had higher purportions of crime rates. But surely you don’t believe that this higher rate of crime is because blacks are inherently more inclined to commit crime, do you?
It is a far better and more helpful question, I suggest, to ask what can be done about black crime? What socio-political factors are at play? How can we bring God’s restoration to the situation? How can God do this through us? (and He can do it through Christian and non-christians, by the way – remmeber Cyrus the Persian?)
A similar (or parallel) situation could be education here in New Zealand. Some races have consistently scored lower in assessments/tests/grading. What to do here? Shall we remind everyone that these races are STILL doing poorly? Shall we remind people that the whites score better? Or shall we roll up our sleeves and actually begin to care about these issues and work toward the difficult solutions to them?
(just picked up your latest comment…)
Just to be clear, I’m not bowing the knee to the popular notions of ‘toleration’ that you are reacting to. Quite the contrary. Did you read the post on which you are commenting? Interact with it! My blog is not here to provide you with an opportunity to get readers for yours. You’re more than welcome to input into conversations, but please at least be respectful to interact with the post you’re commenting on.
Among other things, I’m suggesting that there ARE many things that NOBODY should tolerate. I’m trying to get behind the fuzzy, wishy-washy langauge of ‘tolerance’ which you (and I) so despise…
Make sense?
By the way, I’m an American myself, and I agree that it’s far from a ‘Christian’ nation. I too am troubled by Zionist notions (whether they are held by Americans, Kiwis, Africans or wherever…).

Maybe I’m overreacting to the blatant anti-Muslim nature of the cartoon. “Tolerance,” to me, says Jewish meddling in the Diversity politics of the US. These people are indeed running this country into the ground. Look at the economic realities of what Iraq will cost us.

Sorry for overreacting. I’m a little angry at about Eve Carson in UNC being killed and how our media spits in white people’s faces anymore. And I believe we are on the cusp of some big and bad things and I hate to see Christians being deceived by these people.

Thanks. To be honest, I just chose that cartoon because I thought it was a parody of the sloppy useage of the word ‘tolerance’… Indeed, you could have over-reacted… :)

The connotation of ‘tolerance’ which I wish to resist is the one implied in the following (much heard) statement:
“What!? You think ‘_____’ is wrong? How intolerant of you!”
The same connotation is implied in this one as well:
“Our community values tolerance. We accept all kinds of lifestyles.”
There are not many more vague and shallow statements such as this. Firstly, if you ‘accept’ a ‘lifestyle’ (that’s the vague part) then you aren’t ‘tolerant’. To be tolerant, you must both disagree with the ‘lifestyle’ AND accept people who live it. Secondly, the promise of acceptance of ‘all’ lifestyles is vague and actually not practiced by anyone. Does anyone ‘accept’ the murderous lifestyle? The ‘selfish’ lifestyle? The abusive one? The statement means effectively nothing. It’s just empty marketing-style happy-speech… (end of rant)

I agree that there is such a thing as an anti ‘white-middle-class-male’ bias. What I mean by ‘bias’ is that the (good) notion of equality has been used (perhaps with good intent?) to justify reverse-discrimination; which denies jobs/positions/acceptance to qualified white, middle-class males and gives the job/position/acceptance to others from ‘minority’ groups. One one hand, I want to acknowledge this kind of bias. It’s bad, and you are right to react against it.
On the other hand (which I suggest you play down or ignore?), I’d be interested to know how you feel about what I would call the over-valuing of American (or western) life… When 1,000 people in the so-called ‘developing world’ die, it barely (if at all) makes ‘the news’; but yet the death of one American can capture headlines all around the world. What kind of values are behind this!? Not equality, I suggest.

It is (as always) more complicated than things seem. It’s a matter of both, not either or. There is such a thing as ‘anti-white’ sentiment… yes. But look at the obsession that make-up companies have with smooth, white faces of young european women… You don’t see too many black women in make-up ads, do you?

Things go both ways…

Hope these thoughts help…



Sorry to go offtopic but there’s a question I’ve got to ask…

Incogman, I notice that the subheading of your blog says “Sick of all the BS, anymore…” and in your last comment you just said “our media spits in white people’s faces anymore”. You also say “What a big, fat lying joke on America, anymore.” in one of the items on your blog.

I’ve never come across this usage of the word “anymore” at the end of a sentence before – may I ask where in the US you are from and whether this usage is part of the normal everyday speech where you are? Or is there another meaning behind your usage?

Where I’m from we would tend to say “I’m not going to be racist anymore” where the “anymore” would be directly linked to the “not going to be” whereas in your usage the word “anymore” seems (to me) to not really be linked to the preceding sentence.

Yes, “intolence” is the new epithet like “heresey” used to be. Those behind it all, have used American’s sentiments for equality and fairness against themselves in the attempt to hide their own actions in this country. Actions that keep America firmly in the role of Israel’s prime benefactor.

And yes, of course, we spend too much time on American deaths. But ask yourself this: Why does the media ignore the Palestinian plight? Or only pay lip service to it, always ending the comments about terrorist attacks on Israelis? They cannot get away with any real critisism of Israel and this should alert you to the behind-the-scenes control going on with the media.

As far as “anymore” goes: I may not be the most adroit english-wise, but I mean what I say. Perhaps I use it incorrectly or too often.

As Americans, we all need to start asking questions openly without fear of being accused of racism or anti-semitism. They’ve silenced America by this tactic and it keeps going on and on. White Americans are shooting themselves in their own foot by attacking any whites that dare to speak up.

Maybe, I’m not the best person for all this. I’ll feel much better when smarter people start talking out and I can go back to being just some drunken fly fisherman. lol.

Interesting point about tolerance. Any Muslim can tell you it is hardly complimentary to be tolerated. Ironically the word lacks much of the good qualities ascribed to it, as much as intolerance lacks much of the bad qualities. Respect even seems a step up.

In the light of the topic, reconciliation is probably another step up from respect. Tolerance can just end up simply ignoring each other. Respect just gives room and a certain amount of freedom to practise differences. Reconciliation is where the truth of both positions is sorted so both sides can grow beyond just existing side by side.

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