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November 13, 2008


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Christopher Shelton

"Those of us who wish for "tolerance" for (in this case) gay people are being hypocritical if we demonstrate "intolerance" towards those who themselves show some form of "intolerance" towards gay people."

In my experience, the best way to deal with this argument is to agree.

To say:
"You are right. I was not tolerant of you and I wished that you were unable to act on the things that you feel and believe. In fact, I was about to argue that people who are intolerant of gays should not be allowed to marry. I was about to argue that *you* should have your marriage nullified because you are intolerant."
"Now I see that you are absolutely correct and we all must be treated equally. I no longer believe that you should be denied your right to marry, and I'm sure you will grant me the same goodwill."

I like this approach because it collapses the "be tolerant of the intolerant" argument into "be tolerant".

If you feel the person on the other side is not sophisticated enough to follow that line of reasoning, you could always go with:

"No, *you* should be tolerant of *my* intolerance of *your* intolerance!", which also highlights how useless it is to follow that line of debate.

Joshua James

Great post. I wished I'd been as clear earlier when discussing it on your previous post.

Scott Walters

I'm not certain if this is a reference to the discussion of Tom Loughlin's post. If so, and you are arguing with my comments concerning it, then you are distorting what I said. What I called for was civil discourse, which does not mean a quiet, polite discussion -- a passionate argument, such as what you describe yourself doing on the subway, is very much civil discourse, and the basis for a democratic society. However, literally silencing the opinions of others by drowning those words out is not civil discourse, not only because it prevents the speaker from speaking, but because it denies the right of others to listen to and engage that speaker. By all means, engage a speaker with whom you disagree, and martial all your rhetorical strategies to show that he is misguided. But do so while respecting that the democratic process is based on the civil exchange of ideas. Bigotry should be confronted, not given a free pass. That is not the same thing as preventing speech.


Nope, Scott, this is in reference to comments here on my blog, one of which I quote within the post itself.

Also, in the post, I wrote the following:
"To add onto this however... there's an odd bit of Conservative Victimhood malarky going around here in the comments and elsewhere in the news, in commentary etc. that goes a little something like this:"

"here in the comments" is another tip off! If I was talking about you, I'd just argue with you directly. You and I are (pretty much) on the same page on this one, although we might disagree w/r/t specific things in the post Tom wrote.

Scott Walters

I couldn't remember -- I knew I had commented on your original post, and I thought Joshua and I had argued a bit, so I was wondering. Thanks for the clarification.

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