I’m intolerant of “intolerance of intolerance”

I have been accused of being intolerant on a few occasions. I’ll have to admit that it is true. It is good to be intolerant at times. There are things in this world that I don’t agree with and do not believe should be allowed to happen. There are also things that others may be ok with, that I personally do not tolerate in my own life.

In engineering terms, that which sits within the range of tolerance is that which is allowable and conducive to the integrity of the system. Any value outside of the range of tolerance is thus because it could be (or is) destructive to the system. Within the tolerance range is often an ideal or optimum subset which means that the system will perform at its peak.

As a member of the human race each of us needs be tolerant and intolerant. There is a time and a place for both. Whether you should be tolerant or intolerant on any point and how you express the choice you make is up to you, but it is an important one because it will affect the way in which you relate to others. The important difference between human tolerance and engineering tolerance is that the things we like, our ideals, we do not need to tolerate them. I don’t tolerate my first coffee every morning, I love it. I tolerate the traffic on the way to work and if I miss that first cup of coffee at home I tolerate the poor excuse for coffee that the machine spits out at work.

The problem is that some people in the community have adopted tolerance as some sort of virtue. It is as if being able to tick the “I am a tolerant person” box makes you a better person. It follows that if tolerance is good, then intolerance must be bad …. Ok let’s face it, it is downright immoral. Which means that if I am to be tolerant then I cannot abide with intolerance which means that I have to add an exception two the “intolerance is bad rule” which leads people like Catherine Deveny to say something  like “I’m intolerant of intolerance” on Q&A.

This is a bit difficult for me because I have a preference for being rational – but let us follow this a bit further now…..

I am personally intolerant of nuts, I just don’t like them. I have however tolerated nuts for the sake of others, like when they made something for me without knowing I don’t like them and they put nuts in it. I am tolerant of others eating nuts in my presence or extolling the virtues of nuts, except in my own house for the sake of my anaphylactic daughter.

You see tolerance in and of itself is neither a good nor bad thing. Yet for some it seems, it is acceptable to hijack the word “intolerant” and turn it into an negative association, an ad hominem for others that they are in fact intolerant of.

That is why I am calling for everyone to be intolerant of “intolerance of intolerance”.


I did originally link this post directly to Catherine Deveny’s website. I have removed that link due to my intolerance! It is not so much her further comments against Peter Jensen referring to him as a “creepy ‘gentleman with manners'”, it is the public insinuations and degrading comments she makes about her own son that really get me.

Marriage is considering divorce

Removing my ring from my finger hurt me, so I hope you appreciate this photo.

Watching Q&A is something that I like to do. Virginia Trioli conducted the panel this week and at one point asked this:

Why does it matter so much to you people what one couple down the road might do if they decide to shack up together? Why do you believe that it is going to unpick the entire institution of marriage? I know gay couples who are together they have nothing to do with my marriage what so ever. “

Without commenting too much about the wording and tone of the question, I would like to look into this line of questioning from a different point of view. The question is unfair in as much as it contains implicit parameters which need to be unpacked and agreed to before the actual questions can be discussed. The Q&A format does not allow for this type of in depth analysis.

The question contains a hint of what Virginia thinks marriage is, or more to the point what marriage is not. It seems to me, that those who want marriage, but are currently unable to have it, spend a lot of time telling us what marriage is not.

The whole debate around marriage involves separating marriage from things that been associated with it up until we have been told otherwise. Why do I believe that is going to unpick the entire intuition of marriage? Because that is exactly what we are doing already!

I wonder if the separation rhetoric will actually have an impact on marriage in reality.

I wonder if we actually do change marriage will we realise that we have divorced marriage from many of the things that make it desirable?