6 years ago: Totalitarians vs. pluralists

May 31, 2007, on this blog: Totalitarians vs. pluralists

About here, inevitably, someone will chime in with what they seem to think of as the trump card for the religious totalitarian perspective. Aha! they will say, so what you’re saying is you’re all for tolerance, except when it comes to people who are intolerant!

Well, yeah. And also, duh. Antonyms are incompatible. Opposites are opposed. That’s not a particularly noteworthy observation, so I’ve always been baffled as to why this bit of adolescent wordplay was regarded as meaningful.

Here again, though, I think Patel’s terminology is helpful. Intolerance is, necessarily, totalitarian. So when I say I favor freedom — whether freedom of conscience or of any other sort — then, yes, what I’m really saying is that I’m all for freedom except for when it comes to people who want to impose totalitarianism. This exception does not, as the JV sophists would have it, negate the claim that “I’m all for freedom.” It simply demonstrates that, unlike them, I’m aware of what words like “free” and “tolerant” — and their opposites — actually mean.

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  • “Liberals always say they’re all about tolerance, but that’s only if you agree with them” is one of the top arguments used on Facebook. It always makes me want to beat on the person with an inflatable mallet.

  • reynard61

    You’re a lot more generous than I am. I wouldn’t even bother with the “inflatable” part. (Which is probably why it’s a good thing that I don’t have access to Hammerspace.)

  • If I had access to Hammerspace, I’d be too busy trying to figure out a way to tap it for UNLIMITED POW-WAAAAAR.

  • stardreamer42

    My standard response to this piece of bullshit runs roughly as follows: “That’s a bully’s argument. Tolerance is necessarily a 2-way street; I am neither legally nor morally required to extend it to someone who will not grant me the same courtesy. To say that I am leaves all the power in the hands of abusers, and their victims with no recourse. Which, of course, is the purpose of the argument to begin with.”

  • arcseconds

    Is Hammerspace related to Hammertime?


    (Hammer-spacetime, anyone?)