No tolerance for intolerance

No tolerance for intolerance

Throughout the last decade of intense partisan division, “political tolerance” has become a term that everyone has heard of at one point or another. However, the promotion of blind political tolerance should not be encouraged, since it sweeps important issues under the rug and normalizes bigoted beliefs.

On Nov. 4, the Diamond Bar High School Wellness Wednesday program dedicated an entire session to talk about tolerance: respecting the ideas that differ from one’s own. They shared a video that treated political tolerance as a simple, cookie-cutter issue that can be applied in any situation where you disagree with another. However, in most cases, taking a firm stance in an argument and refusing to yield is necessary, and certain issues should not be left up to a compromise. 

To a certain extent, political tolerance can be beneficial, but as soon as the conversation shifts toward those issues that divide us the most, such as debates over the rights of different groups of people, this is where a middle ground absolutely cannot, and should not, be reached. For example, in regards to abortion, it is possible for some pro-choice and pro-life people to agree that birth control should be more accessible and the conditions of foster care should be improved. 

However, there’s still the matter of whether abortion should be legal. Both sides will not compromise, as pro-choice advocates  believe that abortion is an issue concerning bodily rights while those who are pro-life believe abortion is murder and disregards the rights of a fetus. This makes the issue of “political tolerance” much more complicated than the video that the Wellness Wednesday program provided made it out to be.

 If we followed the video’s advice of trying to find a middle ground, both parties would just be stuck in a never-ending debate in an attempt to reach a nonexistent compromise–after all, you can’t just give someone “half a right” and call it a day–and the issue would never be resolved.

The video also talked about how people should “establish respect for diversity of opinions,” and it’s very obvious that the United States has taken that advice to heart. In most states, using the “gay/trans panic defense,” a legal strategy that permits a jury to decide that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a valid reason for someone else to attack or even murder them, is legal. 

To any sane, empathetic human being, this sounds atrocious, but according to the ideals of “political tolerance,” shouldn’t the belief of the attacker–that trasngender/gay indviduals are dangerous–be respected? Obviously not, considering that the matter involves another human life, but the fact that this could be so easily disregarded in the name of respecting others’ beliefs, in the 39 states where this defense is valid, is disgusting. 

Once we extend political tolerance to those who are racist, homophobic, Islamophobic or sexist, marginalized groups may be afraid to speak up and share their voices in fear that they could get attacked or murdered. It was obviously not the intention of the Wellness Wednesday program to promote the tolerance of hateful ideals, but it did come across as tone-deaf and insensitive considering that  a world which respects all political opinions is a dangerous one for many marginalized groups.