Monday, January 26, 2009

Hiding Behind the Word Tolerance...

I was reminded today of a word I really hate: Tolerance.

Tolerance is a term that is often used in the media or in speeches by government officials to express the ideal attitude that should be taken towards visible minorities. Tolerance is an evil little word. It lulls all of us into a false sense of security, into feeling accepted and liked by the communities in which we live, because the people are tolerant. But tolerance and acceptance are very different words that mean very different things.

Various dictionaries give different definitions of either terms but at the heart of the matter, tolerance has a negative connotation: you don't like something, but there's nothing else you can do about it. Whereas acceptance sounds much nicer: even if you're different, I think it's great. In these days where a black was elected to the highest office in the western world, where everyone is allowed to vote and where Martin Luther King day is acknowledged all around the hemisphere we still see a world like tolerance in the press...
Racial tolerance, religious tolerance, cultural tolerance. I'm sick and tired of seeing tolerance masquerading as acceptance.

Today is Chinese New Year, I was attending a lecture this morning and sitting next to a young woman of Chinese origin. Towards the end of the lecture a man sitting near us walk up to hear and says "Happy new year... kwon yu yi jang ju!!!" he starts to laugh and says "Did I say that right?" I told the man to take a seat and that me and him would talk outside, after the lecture. We're both grown men so no punches were thrown, that and I have a strict policy of not punching mentally challenged people in the face. But we did have a heated exchange of words until a few people came and broke up the argument. The argument ended with him saying that he was just joking that he tolerated everyone!

His last sentence pretty much covers exactly what I've read in newspapers or heard in the media.

Muchacho Enfermo


machinepolitick said...

Good job calling out the jerk, and refraining from smashing him in the face.I find that people who scream the loudest about tolerance are usually the most bigoted.
It sounds like your friend is an imbecile, which might explain his lack of tact. Why do that kind of people always mangle someone else's language in an effort to prove themselves more accepting than they are? I suspect someone has a self-esteem issue.
Thanks also for making the distinction between the terms tolerance and acceptance. I suspect the distinction is lost on many.
As a side note, may I quote you in paintings? I will give full credit of course. You have a peevish writing style similar to my own, and I often think some of your lines would fit well with my work.
Congrats also, on your recent award from Zurama.

Muchacho Enfermo said...

Hey! Thanks for the comment and I'm glad to see you're back and blogging!

You're right about the distinction between tolerance and acceptance being lost on a lot of people. Unfortunately Quebec, the province where I live, has quite a large faction of government that makes it okay to be a bigot. I'll write a whole post about it soon, they actually garnered about 40% of the provincial election vote and they coined the phrase "pure bred Quebecker" it's nuts the crap that goes on here sometimes...

As for quoting me in your work, please don't even ask I'd be honored! You know how much I love your work!

Congrats on your recent award as well :D

machinepolitick said...

I guess politicians are idiots everywhere. It must go with the job.