The Fallacy of Positive Tolerance

There has been much said lately about "tolerance". What most people don't realize is that two separate definitions are now being used: "NEGATIVE" tolerance and "POSITIVE" tolerance. What you probably think of as tolerance is now being called "negative", and a new "positive tolerance" has been introduced. Let me explain the difference:

You accept the right of others to hold differing opinions, have different lifestyles, and be different than you - while not accepting their behavior as right for you or society. This is usually based on a viewpoint that there are universal truths for all people in all ages - absolutes that are right, and absolutes that are wrong. Positive tolerance advocates call this a "heirarchy", which they do not accept.
All ideas, lifestyles, etc. are equal. There is no heirarchy, no absolute truths - so all opinions, lifestyles, etc. are worthy of respect and praise by all members of society. Personal opinions, morals, and truths that contradict somebody else's opinions, morals, or truths are wrong, and should be abandoned. Anybody who holds a heirarchial viewpoint is a bigot, maybe even a dangerous fanatic, whose viewpoint is dangerous to society.

And therein lies the fundamental flaw in the concept of "positive tolerance":

How can you be positively tolerant of a negatively tolerant person?

The answer is - you CAN'T. The two ideas are so different that they cannot both be right. If you are positively tolerant, and you are faced with a negatively tolerant person, you have limited options:

  1. You can be positively tolerant of them. But if you are, then you accept their concept of negative tolerance as being equal to your own positive tolerance. If that is the case then the two are the same thing, and there is no positive tolerance. Only negative.
  2. You can be negatively tolerant of them. But if you are, then you are equal with them - a bigot who believes in a heirarchy: YOURS. Your positive tolerance is just as flawed as their negative tolerance, you pick and choose who to be bigoted against.
  3. You can be totally intolerant of them. But if you believe in the concept of positive tolerance, then tolerance is the highest, most noble goal in life. If you are intolerant, then you are as imperfect as those "dangerous" Christians say - in need of redemption. You are one step away from loading negatively tolerant people into gas chambers ---

"Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." - Hypatia of Alexandria