The closest thing to perfect tolerance would be martyrs who let themselves be tortured to death rather than renounce their beliefs. But we live in a society that is liberal in the sense that we can usually express our opinions freely. That shouldn't be confused with the modern abuse of the label "liberal". You are not obliged to tolerate, that is, to remain silent about, the intolerance displayed by self-described "liberals". "Liberal" tolerance is an oxymoron. "Liberals" mock the gentle Amish, advocate the murder of helpless innocents such as the unborn and Terry Schiavo, show tacit approval to discrimination against and hate crimes committed against people of a certain skin tone, and even revel in the suffering of anyone who thinks differently than they do. Very little about them is truly liberal, except in the meaning of abundance, as in their self-righteousness, self-indulgence, running their mouths and spending other people's money. I enjoy to point out their contradictions, and freely admit that makes me intolerant. But that honest intolerance is still better than their false righteousness.
By expecting other people to be just as tolerant as you, you are going against your own beliefs. You would almost have to be tolerant of intolerance in order to be considered "tolerant" in the first place. Otherwise you would only be defending tolerant people, and therefore only people who had some similarity to yourself.
Tolerant people should tolerate intolerance, within reason. The free speech of intolerant people should not be infringed, for example. However, there is no need to tolerate intolerance of a form that actively attacks the rights of everyone in the society; for example, even tolerant people should stand up against racism when it means someone's rights are being violated.
There are so many voices out there pushing their views and saying they just want to be accepted by everyone. But many are at fault when they do not allow others to carry their own opinions and use their own voice.
A good example is they pro-gay movement. There is an vocal angry minority that gives the whole crowd a bad name. Simple by bashing everyone who does not agree with them, calling them hateful merely because people do not support the pro-gay position.
If you don't tolerate intolerance then you yourself are intolerant and therefore are the thing you are intolerant to. Obviously this is a contradiction so you must be tolerant towards people who are intolerant. If you don't want to create a paradox you have to be tolerant of all things.
In order to be truly tolerant someone has to accept all types of people and their attitudes and persuasions. A tolerant person must accept intolerant people despite disagreeing with their "intolerance". I believe to be 100% tolerant a person has to accept everyone no matter how horrible other peoples behaviors are. This does not mean that a tolerant person cannot work to change the minds of the "intolerant"
If someone is truly tolerant, then they should be tolerant of all other peoples ideas and beliefs. This means that, no matter ow much you might disagree with those ideas and beliefs, you accept that other people feel that way and allow them to feel so. Someone who is truly tolerant would approach intolerant people with a live and let live mentality - that they are allowed to have their intolerant ways even if you do not agree with them. I think this sort of tolerance is the hardest to achieve but the most representative of the ideals.
People that are high and mighty about being "accepting" and "tolerant" might as well get used to the fact that there is plenty of intolerance in this world, and the best way to move forward is to just accept it. There will never be full, uniform agreeance on anything. Tolerant people need to understand that.
Censoring and banning the learned behaviors of intolerant people forces them into secret hate groups which will erupt into violence. Let's keep them exposed where they are forced to hear the feelings of love and hope and reason from tolerant people. Learned behavior can be unlearned, But not in isolation.
So long as a person keeps himself within the confines of the law, any and all objections to that person's actions or opinions are on moral grounds, and there is no legitimate reason to censor them. This does not mean one should refrain from gainsaying them, but freedom of opinion means the freedom to hold unpalatable opinions - and freedom of speech grants the right to express those opinions.
Maybe a person believes in the death penalty for homosexuality. He is, by law, entitled to that opinion. He is also allowed to express that opinion, within limits. Yes, there is the danger that if people are allowed unpalatable opinions then the opinions may spread, perhaps become mainstream in society. Certainly. But that is the price of free speech: if that is what society wants, then that is what it will be like. People with unpalatable opinions are just as entitled to contribute in the shaping of society as anybody else. And the moral outrage against these people is no less emotional than the moral outrage of homophobes advocating the death penalty for homosexuals.
We aren't obligated to LIKE anybody. And we don't have to shut up about it. But as long as someone behaves within the confines of the law, we have no legal choice but to tolerate them. But again, that does not mean that we cannot use the same privilege ourselves, and speak out against them. Just because I speak out against a person's beliefs, doesn't mean I do not *tolerate* him, or his right to hold the position I'm arguing against.
Karl Popper wrote, "unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them."
In response to the first YES commenter - it is not hypocritical for an advocate of tolerance to also advocate intolerance of the intolerant. What would you have otherwise? It's not about 'defending people who are similar' at all. It's about defending beliefs and standards of behavior that promote the universal respect of individuals without a thought to measuring the worth of their identities.
Germany is a relatively tolerant society today. They have banned Naziism and Holocaust denial. Allowing those ideals to flourish in public would leave the door open for Germany to revert to a state of extreme intolerance, as they have experienced in the past. It's natural not to tolerate intolerance when you know the real-world result of institutionalized intolerance.
Respecting free speech is another question. If you are free to speak about your belief in racial hatred, for instance, I am free to call your speech hateful idiocy, and abuse your evil opinions. My exercise of free speech in response to yours does not impinge on your right.
Intolerance is unfair. Ignoring it is wrong as well. It is not intolerant to call out unfair attitudes or actions.A good example is the requirement of a minimum of words here. It is unfair to require a certain amount of words.This is why I speak out.I am not being "intolerant" ,just stating the obvious bias toward concise,clear thinking.
Intolerant people are very negative. Despite the fact that being tolerant implies: "showing respect for the rights, opinions or practices of others", "showing or characterized by broad-mindedness" and "showing the capacity for endurance", I firmly believe that we have to show that intolerance is out of place, very negative and destructive. I'm tolerant to those who are tolerant, but won't turn the other cheek to those who are intolerant, and encourage them by accepting their negative attitude.
When you do not oppose a system or idea that is degrading, harmful, and morally wrong then you are no worse than those perpetrating the ideals set forth. We mustn't be scared to call out the injustices of our fellow humans. When something isn't right not speaking or trying to right a wrong seems to only be a secret reinforcement of negative ideas and behaviors.
If we were talking about the words in absolute terms then this would be a different debate. But we don't live in a world of absolutes and to label a person as tolerant or not and then expand that to the absolute is absurd. It's akin to saying that if you don't love everyone and everything you can not love anyone or anything. We are all tolerant of some things and intolerant of others. A person can be a very tolerant person and still be intolerant of bad behavior and hateful ideas. The majority of those who seem to have a problem with this are the ones that want their intolerance of differing ethnicity and gender to be the equivalent of intolerance of bigotry and hate. Sorry folks, but there a difference. Admittedly, it's a difference of values and as such neither universal nor absolute.
The external environment is constantly changing. This means that new perspectives and ideas must develop in order to react and adapt to new conditions. An intolerant perspective is one that is incapable of acknowledging and adapting to external change. Failing to adapt to change means a failure of that society.
Tolerance from its definition means "a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry." It doesn't mean tolerance of something morally wrong. If we take the negation of the definition above, it's the definition of intolerance, and I think it is clear that something like that is morally (and can be also legally) wrong.
Were we to tolerate it, racism and homophobia would flourish, we would have another Third Reich. We would have the inquisition back (how can you be intolerant of my torturing those innocent people?). That is why I firmly believe that one should not tolerate the intolerant. Thanks for reading. :)
There is no workable way of generalizing tolerance toward all behavior of humans. It would seem to me that tolerance toward disagreeable behavior is the most useful way of not raising issues regarding the emotional and mental well-being of any individual, it is shorthand silencing based on an abstract principal, that people should just be tolerant because that is what tolerant people do. People have personal needs and nobody has better access to locate, care for or fulfill individual emotional and intellectual needs than individuals themselves. Nobody should ever be told to disregard their own thoughts or feelings on account of "tolerance."
intolerance on the other hand is also an absurdly homogenized concept. It is used to describe a very wide scope of attitudes and actions, from violent policing of others to basically any form of non-cooperation or disobedience.
So to cut through this gross oversimplification, no, these are not two concepts that one must pick between, they are a whole array of attitudes, behaviors and feelings that are case-specifically differentiable. So in general, the question is wrong, and to me that equals a definite no. We need useful concepts, not this binary crud.
Treating tolerance in absolute terms and living up to it would ultimately prevent tolerant people to fight for their beliefs and we'll end up in a society where tolerance doesn't exist as a virtue. I like the analogy in one of the previous comments that having jails in the 'land of the free' is NOT hypocritical.