Ever since my first foray onto Equestria Daily, there has been something that has rankled me about the whole ‘Brony’ thing. Well, two things, actually, but one I at least understand—the unreasonably assertive way that some fans ‘defend’ the terminology—is a sign of how precious the collective label is to them, the other is the ‘virtues’ of love and tolerance. Never more does this chafe than with the assertion that ‘I’m going to love and tolerate the shit out of you’. For a long while, this was something I wanted to rant about, and I didn’t think that was to anybody’s benefit.
Times change, so let me make it abundantly clear where I stand:
Tolerance is a social disease.
Well, hopefully that’s gotten your attention. What I need to make perfectly clear here is that it doesn’t mean I take any issue with the underlying intent with which the words are used, but I do take issue how they’re used, and the word itself. Consider this a challenge (I’m always happy to be proved wrong, it’s the only way I can become more right!). I truly believe there is only one application of tolerance that is a positive one: our inner considerations about interpersonal conduct. But that isn’t want is meant by the Brony ‘virtue’.
For me, the crux of the problem is this:
Tolerance is a word that has been granted a social bias of being a de facto good thing; I would say that it’s the exact opposite. To be tolerant of one’s emotions is the one time I believe it can be applied to good effect: know thyself. But what does it mean to tolerate another person? It means that you hold their actions to be disagreeable and hold a position of self-righteousness in not responding to it. It means that you hold the other person to be wrong, either without due cause to believe so, or without the courage to do something about it. After all, if they aren’t actually wrong in some way, what is there to tolerate?
This, I believe, is not only unfair to those whom we would claim to tolerate, but unfair to ourselves as well. Neither of these implementations are just or virtuous. If the words or actions of another person cause you pain, then either the problem is within you, and you need to find out why if you ever want to be free of it, or the words were genuinely unreasonable and should be fought if you hold yourself to be a virtuous person. The problem, I suspect, is that people associate being intolerant with hate, and bile, and bigotry, and I can understand why. I think we all know there is a lot of it going around in this world we live in, but it doesn’t have to be that way. No, I think it’s high time we started talking about what we really mean, rather than hiding behind words that come with too much baggage and ignorance to carry a well-intentioned message.
Be intolerant, but do so with a grace and humility that can only come with self knowledge, and genuine compassion. If you think something is unjust, unfair, or hurtful, then raise your voice and speak your mind. Remember as you do so, that if your cause for complaint is your emotional reaction, then you may as well be arguing that cheese and onion flavour crisps are ‘better’ than ready salted [Point of order: cheese makes everything better. -Chris]. The only place tolerance can be a virtue is in overcoming your emotions to approach the things in life that you believe are important with clarity and truth instead of anger and bitterness. Anything less is intellectually dishonest, and both you and the subject of your intolerance deserve better.
I, for one, like rocking the boat. I do not accept; I challenge. If you disagree with me, then speak your mind and tell me why, because I don’t think there is another debate more befitting this community than how to be more open and compassionate. If I am wrong, then I need to know. If I am right, then I want you to understand. When you tolerate another, you blame them for your own fears. ‘I’m going to love and tolerate the shit out of you’ is more akin to counter-bullying than it is compassion, even if that is not the intent. Such conflict gains us nothing except further scorn.
I say this here, because my experience has been that this is something the vast majority of the community genuinely cares about, either because of their own feelings, or in the defence of others. I say this because I think that not actively encouraging consideration and debate would hurt us all. I say this because it matters to me: because you matter to me, whoever you are.
Intolerance is nothing more than honesty, and that’s a virtue we can all agree on.
Scott ‘Inquisitor’ Mence
- Intolerant and proud if it.
Thanks, Scott, for the insights (and for giving me some breathing room to finish Allegrezza, too). To toss my two cents in: I think of tolerance as recognizing when airing a disagreement would be less fruitful than ignoring it, and I can think of times when it is a (relative) virtue. For example, I may root against a given sports team, but I don't need to let every man, woman, and child whom I see wearing that team's colors know. But one thing I'm sure we agree on: "love and tolerate" was never particularly clever, meaningful, insightful, or anything else of the sort.