Friday, July 13, 2007

Me intolerant?

Is intolerance the home of the misguided? I find it ironical that in climate which seems to revere individual rights intolerance is so rife. Political correctness is of course intolerant. So called “liberals” are often most intolerant of opposing views, just listen to a liberal politician. Atheist based religious intolerance is strongly evident around Christmas and Easter as they try to rid the world of an untruth and to free the population from the shackles of false belief (do I hear an echo of the Inquisition here?).

But my real question is why is intolerance thriving in an era when I thought we were trying to eliminate it – to honour the individual, democracy and freedom? – getting caught up in the spin am I?

My first reaction is to blame the media, of course. After all their influence has increased as they have become more pervasive. Also there is little doubt that parts the media are firmly aligned with various agendas. Consolidation of media ownership has also limited debate. But does all this explain an increased intolerance.

Perhaps there has not been a real move towards intolerance for intolerance sake – perhaps it is a defence. We are increasingly being spoon fed news and views at a superficial level. When last did you see a really good unbiased, in-depth, investigative doco on TV – and as for the magazine programmes …

So perhaps we are forming our opinions not on a solid base of our own reasoning, but rather on the opinions of others. If so we have little of substance with which to defend our views. So do we become intolerant of opposing views? Do we fear being shown up as suckers for some piece of “spin”?

There may be hope in the e-world with its ease of dissemination of opinion – this blog is an example. But perhaps the weakness of this medium lies in its very strength. There is too much information and opinion. It is not easy to find, often swamped by millions of hits in a Google search – I wonder if anyone will ever read this? Because of the proliferation of information the way we use the web for research can capture us. We tend to go to the top of the list of search results (= popular opinion), we tend to follow site links (= pools of similar thinking). This may lead us into the trap of being extremely well misinformed – and perhaps to believing we are right, after all we researched it thoroughly on the web! So if we are right, then they must be wrong. Well at this point what else can we do but make sure they are put right and while we are at it we should try to make sure they don’t spread their mistaken views. Of course we could just enter the debate and convince them of the merit of our argument, perhaps even accept that there are two sides here and one has to choose. No … that’s too hard and we really have to know what we are talking about.

Perhaps I should be more tolerant of intolerance.

5 comments:

Cole said...

So called “liberals” are often most intolerant of opposing views, just listen to a liberal politician.

That is so true.

Cole said...

I like what you said about being tolerent of intolerence. I've never thought of that before.

That's really hard to do though.

Neil Turton said...

Hi Akakiwibear,

You wrote:
"Atheist based religious intolerance is strongly evident around Christmas and Easter as they try to rid the world of an untruth and to free the population from the shackles of false belief (do I hear an echo of the Inquisition here?)."

You'll have a point when they bring out the torture chambers. Let's get things in perspective, the atheists are just writing books and giving talks. I don't think any of them have it in mind to make it illegal to attend a church or to assault believers and I would be against them doing that.

I think it's important to distinguish between intolerance of an idea and intolerance of people. People deserve tolerance and respect. Ideas do not because they are incapable of suffering.

You're right about the danger of bias in the media. I think the only way forward is to take everything with a pinch of salt and listen to both sides of the debate.

Peace, Neil.

akakiwibear said...

"I think it's important to distinguish between intolerance of an idea and intolerance of people. People deserve tolerance and respect. Ideas do not because they are incapable of suffering.

... interesting ... my reading of Dawkins is that he does want religious practices banned, which implies that he has in mind some form of 'negative incentive' for those who do not comply.

Should I be tolerant of his idea? more specifically should I be tolerant of his desire to limit my freedom? I think it is very hard to distinguish between an offensive idea and the person who is personally committed to forcefully pushing it.

Now I admit to a dilemma - I am tolerant, but it is tough route to even identify. Would I like to see Dawkins gagged - guess so, but where would I stop? which ideas would I allow?

Guess I was raising a flag on atheist intolerance, as much pointing out the irony of 'pots calling kettles' as anything.

Hamba kahle - peace

Neil Turton said...

Hi Akakiwibear,

You wrote:
"... interesting ... my reading of Dawkins is that he does want religious practices banned, which implies that he has in mind some form of 'negative incentive' for those who do not comply."

All religious practices or just some? I know he's against the labeling of children as religious and the teaching of religion to children. I don't think I've seen him advocate the banning of religion. He might make fun of people who are religious. Was that the kind of 'negative incentive' you have in mind? Or do you have a quote of something he's said to back up your accusation?

"Would I like to see Dawkins gagged - guess so, but where would I stop? which ideas would I allow?"

I guess that's intolerant. I wouldn't want to see religious people gagged. I'd like to see both sides of the debate open for all to see. Let people decide what to think.

Peace, Neil.