When two people disagree these days, why is it that only one of the groups is labeled intolerant?
What I mean is that everyone is intolerant of something, it is really just a question of what they will not tolerate. The popular form of “intolerance” today is intolerant of those who would hold other people accountable to an exterior moral standard.
It is not often talked about as a form of intolerance, but it is just as real as any other.
The difference between it and other forms of intolerance is that it is an entirely self-contradictory and duplicitous position. At least the other forms of intolerance are forthright about their intolerance.
For some, the boundary is based on the content of their faith. What is to be “tolerated” is not really about tolerating in this case, but rather about what is right and wrong. The eternal source upon which their faith is based provides this system for distinguishing right from wrong, and thus from what is good and acceptable and what is wrong and reprehensible. These groups are easy to attack because they are still a majority, but they are certainly not the only groups which are intolerant.
The voice which catches the most attention — undoubtedly by agenda or design — is the voice which says only intolerance is intolerable. The proclaimed mantra of this group is some variation of “each one is entitled to believe and do whatever they would like so long as they don’t hurt others.” In this view, good is that which brings pleasure and evil is that which causes suffering. There is a word for this old philosophy, hedonism — “the ethical theory that pleasure is the highest good and proper aim of human life”. Hedonism presents itself as nobly standing on the moral high ground, where they seek to extend life, and relieve suffering of others, all the while benevolently allowing people to believe and do whatever brings them personal happiness and satisfaction.
But Hedonism fails both logically and practically.
Logically, this view proves self-contradictory and untenable. To say that each is entitled to believe and do as they like must allow for people to disagree with the very proposition itself. But, in order for the proposition to work, everyone would have to accept it... and this contradicts its own assertion that everything is acceptable, because it is then unacceptable to reject this position. So, it fails logically.
When put into practice, hedonism inevitably leads to the moral decay of a society and is a breeding ground for narcissistic hatred and intolerance toward any views which would presume to judge such moral depravity as “evil”.
So, hedonism is not all it’s cracked up to be. It promises something it cannot deliver: a world where everyone lives in peace without any problems if we would all just let each other do whatever we want. What it delivers is a world where all are “calloused to evil and give themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.” In such a world, the only enemies are those who would dare to speak out against objective moral depravity, and it is then that the tables suddenly turn, as the group which promotes itself as “accepting of all” becomes the violent prosecutor of those with whom they disagree, until they are silenced or destroyed.
The question is not who is “intolerant” because everyone is! The real question is “Who is right about the boundaries?” In other words, we should be asking “what is good and what is evil?” The epistemological basis of each group in response to that question is where the real problem lies. But it takes work to unearth our assumptions about how we know what is good or evil and put them to the test.