Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tolerance: What’s in a Name?

Whichever side you're on in the Great Prop 8 Debate, it's all about the tolerance. Tolerance is the political buzzword du jour, or rather, "du year". It is the very name of this game.

But what does that name mean? "What's in a name?" I consulted my trusty www.dictionary.com. The first definition reads thus:

"a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry."

The very key to the definition of tolerance resides in two words of that definition "those whose". Tolerance is about people. Tolerance is not about the actions of people. We must tolerate all people. As a society we do not, should not, and cannot tolerate all actions. In this sense of the word, I firmly believe that we should tolerate all people, gay people included.

There is, however, a word for the toleration of actions: condone. Supporters of Proposition 8 do not condone the actions of gay people. I repeat, we tolerate gay people, but we do not condone their actions.

Under domestic partnerships, our society and our law were already tolerant of gay people. Beyond mere tolerance, legalizing same-sex marriage goes beyond the bounds of the verb tolerate and lands completely in the realm of condoning the actions of gay people. That I cannot do, and neither will many of my fellow Concerned Californians.

Five Declarations on Tolerance
  1. Tolerance is a two-way street - Many of Prop 8's greatest detractors wave the flag of tolerance until it is threadbare only to set it on fire the moment alternate views are expressed.
  2. Tolerance is about people, not their actions - You can love someone while being against their actions.
  3. Tolerance is about rights - Prop 8 does not take away anyone rights. In fact, in the end it may very well protect many dearly-held rights.
  4. Tolerance is not a weapon or a shield - We should not wield tolerance to hurt others or to protect ourselves from rightful scrutiny. Rather tolerance is a lens through which we must view all people.
  5. Proposition 8 is tolerant.
Please vote Yes on Prop 8.
-Concerned in California


The Bess Life said...

I was so happy to find your blog. I too am very concerned and have been working hard researching (and staying up way too late doing so) the issue so I can help educate others. Surprisingly so many people know nothing about Prop 8. Great post- so true. If you spend any amount of time blogging about this issue with those from the opposition, it very quickly becomes apparent just how intolerant they are (and will be) to anyone who simply holds a different viewpoint. Keep up the good work. This is such an important time in our great state.
Beka (born and raised in SD California)

concernedincalifornia said...

Thanks for the comment Beka! Spread the word. It is so needed right now.

Corvidae said...

Prop 8 is called something along the line of "removes the right of same sex couples to marry" so, obviously, it involves removal of rights.

Brian said...


The definition that you cite does not support your point in that it states that tolerance pertains to people, but does not suggest your notion that tolerance is limited to persons' identity or existence and does not include actions. On the contrary, the second definition of tolerance from dictionary.com explicity refutes your point:

"a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own."

Both definitions are consistent in that they suggest that tolerance means an acceptance and allowance of people and their actions and opinions that are different than one's own.

The Buzz Saw said...

Finally! Someone who knows that they are talking about! Thank you for writing this article. I have tried so hard to explain this to people. My support of Prop 8 does not imply that I think all gay people should be burned at the stake.

concernedincalifornia said...

Glad to have some discussion here and, in keeping with my own rules, I am certainly publishing comments that disagree with my own as long as they are written with respect and not trying to pick a fight.


I would disagree that there is a "right to marry" among our inalienable rights. Here is a thoughtful article for reference http://www.cpjustice.org/stories/storyReader$1178 (obviously I agree with this opinion. I'd welcome your thoughts)

I would agree wholeheartedly that tolerance implies being fair and objective, but I would argue strongly against the fact that it must be permissive. Permissive implies that one assents to the action. Surely you agree with me that there are things that are right and things that are wrong, even if our lists would be different.

It is my opinion, and one that is widely shared, that homosexuality is wrong. I am tolerant of the right of gays and lesbians to choose as they please, but to allow same-sex marriage is to give that nod of assent which I cannot give and to agree to all of the ripple effects that will surely come.