I often hear about ‘tolerance’ and how necessary it is. What is tolerance? The word keeps morphing and its meaning seems elusive as a plume of smoke.
In carpentry ‘tolerance’ is an important concept. If your measurements are off and the margin for error is exceeded, the house you are constructing will be ‘out of tolerance’ and will not stand. You may think you can tolerate a chair built ‘outside of tolerance’ – at least until you sit on it. Or rather, when tested, it may not tolerate you!
Precision and working within tolerances becomes critical when building a ship or a jet. You don’t want to travel on a cruise in a ship built outside of tolerance, or you may awaken doing the back float.
Everyone has their limits. Try sleeping on a pillow that is too hard, or soft for your comfort. Without my favorite pillow, the quest for a night’s rest is intolerable.
Social contexts have their margins for error too. A civil society cannot survive without some elasticity in what can be tolerated. But context is everything. An Englishman may insist on his cultural prerequisites and drive on the left side of the road in Los Angeles. He will find no tolerance for this behavior.
You must conduct yourself differently when meeting the Queen of England than when meeting Courtney Love or you will find the limits of tolerance. Courtney’s friends might reject you too, if you treated her like a queen.
The shooting of unarmed civilians, regardless of their skin color is intolerable regardless of who does the shooting. We may experience intolerance of our response to intolerable actions.
Curiously, grown men sharing rest rooms with little girls is tolerated. But man-spreading on a subway is not.
In the past, an unchaperoned man spending time alone with an unmarried woman was not tolerated. Physical contact between the sexes was forbidden. A marriage contract was the remedy for couples who wished to hold hands, or more. In our enlightened age those rigid rules became intolerable. Tolerance has replaced virtue.
Ironically, recent news is filled with anxious stories about the ‘rape culture’ on college campuses. Some proposed remedies resemble requiring an attorney to negotiate signed acceptance at each stage of physical contact. Wasn’t a marriage contract simpler?
But can anyone tolerate the permanence implied by a contract anymore? Escape clauses don’t excite the libido like they used to.
It appears that in the media industry and within our halls of government a ‘rape culture’ was tolerated, until suddenly it wasn’t. Now, finger pointing is all the rage. Victimhood is power. If the powerful are intolerable, why do so many seek power?
In some other cultures rude behavior is not only tolerated, but expected. It’s a right. In the Middle East, many cultures treat their women as property. A woman claiming she was raped is more likely to be punished than the accused man.
Feminists’ silence about this, I’m told is because ‘each culture makes its choices.’ Really? That’s tolerant.
In today’s Europe, with the arrival of thousands of refugees and migrants from foreign cultures, incidents of rape have spiked. These attacks on native-born women are tolerated by the government due to… tolerance. Of course, a small minority of the migrants are the perpetrators of these crimes but it seems more than coincidental that the steep increase of sexual assaults followed their arrival.
We are told by our betters that we must tolerate those who are different, whomever they may be sexually, culturally, whatever. A man can choose to be a woman, a white can be black. There appears to be no end to this guessing game. I can declare myself to be a twenty-year old, native-American woman, or anything else should I choose. In a previous life I was Cleopatra. Why not now?
This raises an interesting question. If Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Bill Clinton and all the other accused sexual predators simply declared themselves to be from the Middle-East, would their troubles be over?
Would that be tolerance? Or a leaky boat?