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i think there is a good point to be found in what you’re saying, but i think you unnecessarily go too far.
you write: “The problem that has cropped up in the last few decades is that tolerance has morphed into a different gear, going beyond being civil to the other but agreeing with the other. It essentially requires a universalist and antinomian worldview.”
i don’t think that’s true at all. in fact, one cannot defend the moral principle “tolerance is a good thing” or “we should be tolerant of others” and simultaneously be antimonian. that person’s advocation of the tolerance principle would be undermined.
so it’s not the case that “tolerance” people are pushing amorality. so there must be something else going on. but first …
you write: “The higher tolerance also requires us to be antinomian. That’s a five-dollar word for being against all standards of morality. Nothing’s wrong, it’s merely different or alternative. Higher tolerance not only defines deviancy down, it all but abolishes it; the only deviancy to be disparaged is a deviancy from antinomianism. Such anti-antinomian folks are judgmental and not exhibiting higher tolerance (a.k.a intolerant).”
that’s not it. no reasonable person would argue that murder, thievery, cruelty, fraud, rape, nastiness, inconsiderateness, etc., are morally neutral. any reasonable person — religious or not religious — thinks … and knows … that these things are absolutely immoral. anybody who cares about living with others on terms that respect the value of each person recognizes the immoral nature of these things. no decent human thinks they should be tolerated.
the challenge from these “tolerance”-pushing people is whether we have reason to morally condemn in our public and political lives people who live lifestyles that are (a) different than the traditional norm, but (b) do not disrespect the value of other persons. so, for example, are two competent adult females who are in love and choose to live together as a committed monogamous couple harming anyone or disrespecting anyone besides themselves?
it seems to me that the answer is no. they’re not. and therefore, it seems that there is no reason to publicly condemn them within our political life.
now, you may think that they are living in sin because of what scripture says, but that belief is distinguishable from the belief that murder, thievery, etc. are immoral. yes, scripture condemns those as well, just like it condemns homosexuality. but public morality in a constitutional democracy, which must allow citizens to pursue their own conception of the good life, has no reason to condemn the homosexual couple. absolutely none.
so i think what the tolerance folk are pushing is the idea that for citizens in a constitutional democracy, we have reason to condemn morally only those who act in ways that any reasonable person, regardless of specific faith, would have reason to condemn because such actions disrespect the value of some person or persons. that view is not amoralism or … whatever word you used and defined (i never heard it before).
moreover, that view does not say that we have to think everyone will go to heaven because that view doesn’t say anything about what you must believe in your private life.
I threw trackback pings to your blog and Mark’s on this article but my success with trackbacks has been, um, varied, so I’m leaving the URL’s for my input in your comments too. Hope you don’t mind. If you do, feel free to delete and no offense will be taken. I like your blog! Thanks for the great posts!